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U.S. dollar sinks to three-week low on signs of slowing economy

The dollar fell to a three-week low on Monday after data showed the U.S. economy is gradually slowing down with weaker-than-expected readings on manufacturing and construction spending, suggesting that the Federal Reserve is on track to start cutting interest rates later this year.

The dollar index, a measure of the U.S. currency’s value against six major currencies, fell 0.4% to 104.14. The index earlier dropped to 104.13, the lowest since mid-May.

The greenback also slid a two-week trough against the yen following the data and was last down 0.7% at 156.22.

The euro gained 0.5% versus the dollar to $1.0897, after earlier rising to a three-week high of $1.0898.

Monday’s data showed the U.S. Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) purchasing managers index (PMI) for manufacturing fell to 48.7 in May, from 49.2 in April, sliding as well from an 18-month high of 50.3 seen in March.

In a research note, BMO pointed out that the U.S. manufacturing sector shrank in 18 of the last 19 months.

Monday’s ISM decline followed weakness in the Chicago PMI, Dallas Fed, Philadelphia Fed, and the Empire State manufacturing indexes.

U.S. construction spending also slid unexpectedly for a second consecutive month in April, decreasing by 0.1% after a 0.2% decline in March, amid falls in non-residential activity.

“Investors and markets are starting to believe that the U.S. exceptionalism theme is starting to wane,” said Boris Kovacevic, global macro strategist at global payments company Convera in Vienna, Austria, referring to the world’s largest economy’s outperformance versus the rest of the world.

“It’s not completely over but…but markets are now questioning how long the U.S. exceptionalism theme has to go,” he added.

After the ISM and construction spending data, fed funds futures increased the chances of a rate cut in September to around 59.1%, according to LSEG’s rate probability app, compared with around 55% late Friday. It was slightly below 50% earlier last week.

The U.S. dollar posted its first monthly decline of the year in May, weighed down by shifting expectations on when the U.S. central bank will cut rates and by how much. The futures market is fully pricing in one rate cut of 25 basis points (bps) this year.

In the euro zone, however, the European Central Bank is holding a meeting on Thursday and is seen as almost certain to cut rates.

The comments from ECB officials will be in focus for traders along with economic projections as they assess whether the central bank will provide further cuts after Thursday in the wake of data showing a rise in euro zone inflation in May.

Markets are pricing in 57 bps of ECB cuts this year.

In other currencies, sterling rose 0.4% against the dollar to $1.2799, boosted by the dollar’s fall following the U.S. manufacturing data.

The pound pared gains a little after Nigel Farage, who helped lead Britain’s departure from the European Union, said he would stand as a candidate in next month’s election and will lead the right-wing Reform Party. This is widely seen as a major blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

In Mexico, the peso weakened on Monday after the ruling party declared Claudia Sheinbaum the winner of the presidential election by a “large margin” after polls closed on Sunday.

“The peso is underperforming amid seemingly growing concerns amongst investors that by securing supermajority in the lower house the governing coalition could be tempted to implement non-market-friendly policies,” said Piotr Matys, senior FX analyst, at In Touch Capital Markets.

The U.S. dollar was last up 4.1% against the Mexican unit at 17.704 pesos, after earlier hitting its highest since around mid-April.

The Indian rupee, meanwhile, rose to a 2-1/2-month high versus the greenback and was last up 0.4% at 83.08 per dollar as exit polls pointed to a sizable mandate and rare third term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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