Yen at one-week low as renewed trade hopes lift risk sentiment

Reuters SINGAPORE | Updated on November 25, 2019

File Photo   -  Reuters

Positive news flow on the Sino-US trade front lifted market sentiment on Monday, driving the Japanese yen to a one-week low and fuelling 0.2-0.3 per cent gains on trade-focused currencies, from the Norwegian crown to the New Zealand dollar.

The British pound climbed, too, with opinion polls continuing to point to a firm lead for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party, whose election manifesto pledged a quick Brexit, tax cuts and more spending.

Broader markets remained focused on the likelihood of a trade agreement between the US and China by year-end, which US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said was still possible. The Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party's official People's Daily, also said a 'phase one' deal was very close.

“Most of the inferences on the weekend (on the trade front) were positive and markets seem to have decided to run with it,” said Colin Asher, senior economist at Mizuho.

US advisor O'Brien said Washington would not turn a blind eye to events in Hong Kong, where there are fears of a Chinese crackdown on pro-democracy protests. The democrats scored a landslide majority in district council elections, raising pressure on the Chinese-ruled city's leaders to listen to their demands.

The offshore Chinese yuan nevertheless firmed 0.2 per cent against the dollar, in line with other Asian currencies as well as the Australian and Kiwi dollars, while the safe-haven yen retreated to a one-week low versus the greenback at 108.89 yen .

The dollar index edged off the one-week high it hit on Friday against a basket of currencies.

Speculators raised net long bets on the dollar to a five-week high in the week to November 19, data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. But they added to net short euro positions.

The single currency traded just off 10-day lows against the dollar around $1.101, awaiting Germany's IFO business climate index at 0900 GMT to see if that would confirm that economic sentiment is stabilising in the biggest euro zone economy.

Expectations are for the index to have risen to 95 in November from 94.6 last month.

However, “the IFO will need to be very strong to provide much of a boost to the euro,” ING analysts said, noting that an uptick in manufacturing activity shown in recent flash PMIs, had been offset by an alarming slowdown in services.

The euro slipped against the Nordic currencies, too, approaching a four-month low versus the Swedish crown at 10.55 crowns and slipping to one-week lows to the Norwegian currency.

Sterling rose 0.3 per cent to $1.2868 and by a similar around against the euro at 85.67 pence.

Markets will focus later in the day on speeches by European Central Bank's Chief Economist Philip Lane and US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.



Published on November 25, 2019

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