U.S. Dollar Hits Highest Level Since July 2020 — Oppenheimer on Which Stocks to Watch

Jose Luis Gonzalez | Illustration | Reuters

The greenback is breaking out.

The U.S. dollar this week climbed to highs not seen since July 2020 after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was renominated to the position. That decision gave a somewhat clearer outlook for monetary policy in the year ahead, including the likelihood of coming rate hikes.

Common wisdom is that multinational stocks tend to underperform when the U.S. dollar is strong — company profits made overseas are diminished when brought back to the U.S.

That's not always the case, according to Ari Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer. He highlights technology stocks as one group that manages to buck currency headwinds.

"Even with the multinational exposure within the technology sector, we found that relationship really hasn't held for much of the last 30-plus years. If you kind of think back to the late '90s, you had a strong dollar and large caps outperforming versus small," Wald told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Monday.

The U.S. dollar index has risen 7% over the past six months, for example, just as the XLK technology ETF has climbed 23%. That ETF, which holds Apple and Microsoft as its top components, generates more than half its revenue from outside the U.S.

So if technology outperforms regardless of a strong U.S. dollar, Wald sees a different group that should do well if the currency begins to ease.

"If we think we are at a point where the dollar is overbought here, comes off a little bit, it could kind of create and catalyze a bit of a bounce in the commodity complex which has been under pressure. I think metals and mining have held up very well here and are due for a bounce to the upside as a mean reversion trade," he said.

The XME metals and mining ETF has risen 34% this year, better than the 25% gain for the S&P 500.

The dollar and stock market's lockstep rise is an "anomaly" that should continue, according to Michael Bapis, managing director of Vios Advisors at Rockefeller Capital. He says the best tactic is to stay the course.

"Ultimately, long term, the hedge will be a strong bull market, which will continue. It may be choppy in the short term, but it will definitely continue long term," Bapis said during the same interview.

He adds that a strong U.S. dollar could stick around.

"You're going to still see a strong dollar for a while because people know it's one of the strongest currencies, if not the strongest currency, and the U.S. has outpaced pretty much the rest of the world in the recovery as well as the markets," he said.


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