Fears that a major rout in foreign exchange could push the U.S. dollar to a fresh all-time low and force the Fed to raise interest rates for the first time in six years are spreading across the financial services sector.
The fear of a sharp decline in the U, which has been trading below 80 cents an ounce since March, has spurred concerns about a potential rout of the global reserve currency, which was once seen as a safe haven.
“I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this in the past and I think we’re going to see a big, major drop in the dollar,” said Jason Wirth, a U.K.-based investment strategist at Barclays Plc.
“The big worry is that it could have a cascading effect, and that would be a really big problem for investors.”
The U.R.S., which has weakened against the yen in recent weeks after the country’s top banking regulator raised concerns that the country was in the midst of a currency war, has slid sharply against the euro in recent days and is set to fall again next week.
The European Central Bank on Friday said it would raise interest-rate policy at its weekly meeting to help keep the bloc’s economy from slipping into recession.
The bank also raised interest rates in a bid to stimulate growth, and the Fed on Friday announced it would also raise interest rate in the second quarter.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of 20 major currencies, fell to 94.70 against the green back after the Fed cut interest rates to zero.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the dollar could fall to as low as 78 cents from 80 cents before the end of next year.
But, he said the risk is “minimal.”
The dollar weakened by more than 5% against the Japanese yen and by nearly 2% against British pound against the German mark on Friday.
The euro weakened more than 1% against its German counterpart.
“It’s very likely that we’ll be in the range of 79 cents to 81 cents by the end, and we’ll probably end up seeing a couple of weeks’ recovery from that,” said Adam Kocher, a strategist at Morgan Stanley.
“We’re not sure what the impact will be in 2019 and 2020 but we think it’s likely we’ll see a significant downside in the currencies.”
For investors, the worries have prompted a rise in the price of gold, which is up more than 13% this year.
The greenback has lost about 6% of its value against the dollar since the beginning of this year and is down nearly 11% since the start of this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Gold prices fell by more, as investors weighed the benefits of gold’s high prices and the risks of a potential U.W. rate hike.
Gold futures rose 1.5% to $1,236.24 an ounce at 1:52 p.m. in New York.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year note, which investors buy to secure short-term borrowing, was unchanged at 2.6%.
The yield has been on a rally since late March, when gold surged above $1 an ounce.
The Fed raised interest-rates for the second time in five years after a previous rate hike last December.
The central bank also said it could raise rates in the first quarter if inflation in the United States and Europe were to accelerate, and it has cut its forecast for U.s. consumer spending.
The Bank of Japan, the world’s largest reserve currency-issuing central bank, said it will increase interest rates from 0.25% to 0.50% this month.
Inflation is expected to hit a four-year high of 1.9% this quarter and a six-year low of 1%, which would leave it in the red, said Nomura Holdings Inc., which tracks bond prices.
“I don.t think it is a foregone conclusion that there will be a large rise in inflation,” Nomura analyst Hiroko Takagaki said.
“But I think that inflation will be relatively subdued given the current level of the yen.”
The Fed has been raising rates for more than a year, but the central bank has said it has no plans to raise rates until the economy is in better shape.
“They’re not going to do anything until the Fed sees the economy improving, which will take at least a few years,” said Richard Niebuhr, managing director of trading at Wells Fargo & Co. “So there is a lot of uncertainty around when the Fed might actually start hiking.”
A big drop in interest rates could have consequences beyond the U as well.
The Treasury Department on Friday slashed its economic growth forecast for 2019 and for 2020 from 3.5%-4.5%, the biggest in a decade, and from 2.8%-3.9%, the lowest since 2008.
The agency also slashed its forecast of job gains,