By Karen Brettell and Samuel Indyk
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar hit a 10-month high against a basket of major currencies on Wednesday, pushing the euro to an almost nine-month low and keeping the yen in intervention territory, as investors bet the U.S. economy will outperform its competitors in an environment of high interest rates.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields continued to rise on Wednesday, hitting their highest levels since October 2007 and keeping the greenback solidly bid.
Strong U.S. economic data has defied investor expectations for a slowdown and the Federal Reserve last week warned that it could raise interest rates again and is likely to hold rates higher for longer.
"The U.S. is most able to cope with these new challenges - higher interest rates and higher energy prices," said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex in New York. "Even if the news stream from the U.S. is not that great, it still looks relatively better."
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, reached 106.84, the highest level since Nov. 30.
The euro dropped to $1.04880, the lowest level since Jan. 6. Sterling reached $1.21110, the lowest level since March 17.
"It's clear now that markets see higher long-term yields in the U.S. for a longer period. That's the main driver for the dollar here," said Dane Cekov, senior FX strategist at Nordea.
Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said on Wednesday it is not clear yet whether the U.S. central bank is finished raising rates amid ample evidence of ongoing economic strength.
Data on Wednesday showed that orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose in August as an increase in machinery and other products offset a drop in civilian aircraft, and business spending on equipment appeared to regain momentum after faltering early in the third quarter.
YEN ON INTERVENTION WATCH
Elevated U.S. yields have spelt trouble for the yen, which slipped to an 11-month low of 149.71 per dollar.
The dollar/yen pair tends to be extremely sensitive to changes in long-term U.S. Treasury yields, particularly at the 10-year maturity.
The yen's decline closer to the psychological level of 150 per dollar has put traders on high alert for any signs of intervention by Japanese authorities, as officials ramp up their rhetoric against the sliding currency.
"The fundamental upside pressure (to dollar/yen) from bond yields is simply too great to ignore," said Alvin Tan, head of Asia FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets. However, "even if there were intervention, it won't drive dollar/yen down permanently unless bond yields start to retreat in earnest too."
Minutes of the Bank of Japan's July meeting released on Wednesday showed that policymakers agreed on the need to maintain ultra-loose monetary settings but were divided on how soon the central bank could end negative interest rates.
The Swiss franc also reached 0.99240 against the U.S. dollar, the weakest level since March 22.
The Swiss National Bank on Thursday surprised markets by pausing its current cycle of rate increases, sending the Swiss franc reeling.
Currency bid prices at 3:00PM (1900 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Dollar index 106.6500 106.2100 +0.42% 3.053% +106.8400 +106.1600
Euro/Dollar $1.0507 $1.0573 -0.62% -1.94% +$1.0575 +$1.0488
Dollar/Yen 149.5800 149.0600 +0.35% +14.09% +149.7050 +148.8600
Euro/Yen 157.17 157.58 -0.26% +12.02% +157.6100 +156.9700
Dollar/Swiss 0.9209 0.9159 +0.55% -0.41% +0.9225 +0.9155
Sterling/Dollar $1.2139 $1.2158 -0.13% +0.40% +$1.2164 +$1.2111
Dollar/Canadian 1.3510 1.3515 -0.03% -0.28% +1.3543 +1.3501
Aussie/Dollar $0.6354 $0.6398 -0.68% -6.79% +$0.6409 +$0.6332
Euro/Swiss 0.9676 0.9680 -0.04% -2.21% +0.9693 +0.9659
Euro/Sterling 0.8655 0.8696 -0.47% -2.14% +0.8702 +0.8655
NZ $0.5920 $0.5945 -0.43% -6.78% +$0.5957 +$0.5901
Dollar/Norway 10.7540 10.8210 -0.68% +9.51% +10.8320 +10.7210
Euro/Norway 11.3030 11.4321 -1.13% +7.71% +11.4500 +11.2776
Dollar/Sweden 11.0470 10.9930 -0.09% +6.14% +11.0811 +10.9431
Euro/Sweden 11.6070 11.6173 -0.09% +4.10% +11.6575 +11.5613
(Reporting by Karen Brettell; Editing by Mark Potter and Paul Simao)