Dollar Gets Shinier and Shinier

11/29/2010 5:22 pm EST

Focus: MARKETS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

The US dollar keeps running higher as the euro stumbles.

With financial markets unconvinced that the Irish bailout will put an end to a euro debt crisis that’s ready to engulf Portugal and Spain, the US dollar index pushed above 81 this morning for the first time since Sept. 21. (The US dollar index tracks the dollar against a basket of currencies that includes the euro, yen, pound, Canadian dollar, Swiss franc, and Swedish krona.) The dollar index had moved above 86 in June after beginning the year near 74.

The euro, on the other hand, has moved below support and has in fact dropped below its 200-day moving average as investors drove the yields for bonds in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, and Hungary—as well as Ireland—up this morning. The British pound has also dropped below its technical support at its 200-day moving average on news that the country will contribute to the Irish bailout, even though the United Kingdom does not belong to the euro bloc. That served just to remind the financial markets of the big exposure of UK banks to the Irish crisis. I’m sure it didn’t help that the UK government lowered its forecast for GDP growth for 2011.

There’s plenty of US news this week to confirm—or reverse—these currency trends. This week brings the November report on US unemployment, same-store sales from retailers, and the ISM survey of purchasing managers in the manufacturing and service segments of the US economy. Right now, expectations are that all these reports will be positive, with job growth continuing to move higher from October’s positive levels, and the retail and purchasing managers reports confirming news of strengthening consumer spending.

News that confirmed those expectations would drive the US dollar higher. Remember the US dollar index was as high as 86 in June when the euro was struggling with the Greek debt crisis.

All things else being equal, a higher dollar is bad for commodity stocks (oil, copper, and gold), but the fundamentals behind the dollar rally (better US economic growth) are good for retail and other consumer stocks. (For five retail stock picks, see this post.)

Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio. The mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund (JUBAX), may or may not now own positions in any stock mentioned in this post. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of the most recent quarter, see the fund's portfolio here.)

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