President Donald Trump waded into the unusual public debate over currency valuations, roiling markets after he said that he favored a strong greenback just a day after his Treasury secretary endorsed a weak dollar.
“The dollar is going to get stronger and stronger and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar,” Trump said during an interview with CNBC from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The comments jolted the dollar out of a three-day tailspin, sent U.S. stocks lower and pushed Treasuries higher. Currency markets have been jarred, first by Mnuchin’s unusual favoring of a weak greenback. The dollar tumbled further and the euro rallied to a three-year high after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said robust growth justified gains in the common currency. Draghi also issued a veiled rebuke of Mnuchin’s break from convention.
Stocks were virtually unchanged after erasing earlier gains as investors assessed the impact of the greenback’s gyrations on equities. Corporate results had set the tone, with major indexes at the whim of big moves in individual stocks. Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co. advanced on strong forecasts, while Newell Brands Inc. tumbled when the company said it plans to sell off a swath of business. In late trading, Intel Corp. rallied after topping estimates and Starbucks Corp. shares retreated.
“You tend not get too many comments on the dollar’s value from either Treasury secretaries or presidents, it’s a rare event. So the market tends to pay attention when they do happen,” Shahab Jalinoos, global head of foreign-exchange strategy at Credit Suisse, said by phone. “The market can easily imagine the idea that this White House might well change its stance on the currency.”
Trump’s comments roiled a market where investors are already on edge as Mnuchin and Draghi engaged in public discussions of currency levels. That has investors reassessing the global risk-on rally that’s stretched valuations across asset classes. So far, U.S. equities have continued to march higher amid solid corporate results, but rising currencies have threatened stock gains from Japan to Europe. Investors are also casting a watchful on the World Economic Forum, where Trump will deliver a keynote as his administration ramps up protectionist rhetoric.