Dollar confounds forecasters with surge against the euro

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The Independent Online

The dollar has recorded its largest yearly rise against the euro since the single currency was launched in 1999, while gold ended the year above $500 an ounce for the first time since 1980.

Oil prices traded around $60 a barrel in New York, boosted by lower US fuel stocks and expectations that Opec, the oil producers' cartel, will cut its production when it meets in January. Prices are well down on the all-time record $70.85 a barrel hit on 30 August, the day after Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana and Mississippi, although they are still nearly 40 per cent higher than a year ago.

Gold spiked more than 18 per cent this year and further gains are forecast for next year as investors see it as a safe haven amid worries about inflation, economic growth and geo-politics. Gold hit its highest level in nearly 25 years of $540.90 earlier this month.

The investment specialists Dawnay Day Quantum said: "The commodity bull will continue its rampant charge. But if you want to ride the charging bull, expect a bumpy ride."

The dollar was set yesterday to end the year nearly 15 per cent higher against the euro and the yen, trading at around $1.18 against the euro and at some 117.8 yen in afternoon dealing. It was also on track for its best year since 1997 against a trade-weighted index of currencies. The greenback has had a shot in the arm from a steady stream of US interest rate increases. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise rates for a 14th meeting in January, taking its key rate to 4.5 per cent, and more rises could follow.

The dollar has rebounded after a 30 per cent decline over the last three years, driven by worries about the United States' ability to fund its growing trade deficit.

The Fed is expected to continue raising interest rates at a faster pace than the eurozone or Japan next year, lending the dollar further support in the near term.

Even so, some analysts expect the euro to perform better against the dollar next year.