Dollar bounces but risks from oil and virus abound

Reuters TOKYO | Updated on March 10, 2020

File Photo   -  Reuters

The dollar recovered slightly on Tuesday from heavy losses against the yen, the euro and the Swiss franc, supported by hopes for US economic stimulus and a bounce in Treasury yields.

The greenback started to grind higher as US stock futures rose after US President Donald Trump said the White House will hold a news conference on Tuesday about economic measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also said the White House will meet with bank executives this week in a sign the US government is preparing to roll out more measures to soften the blow from the spread of the flu-like virus.

However, analysts say it is too early to call a bottom in the dollar, which was pummelled on Monday after a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia triggered the biggest daily rout in oil prices since the 1991 Gulf War.

“Expectations for a coordinated policy response are something that is evolving and ultimately this could help,” said Rodrigo Catril, senior FX strategist at National Australia Bank in Sydney.

“But in the short term the dollar is driven by expectations for US Federal Reserve easing.”

The dollar rose 1 per cent to 103.26 yen, pulling back from the lowest in more than three years.

Against the euro, the greenback rose 0.17 per cent to $1.1410 after falling on Monday to its lowest in more than a year against the common currency.

The dollar rose 0.39 per cent to 0.9288 Swiss franc on Tuesday after three days of heavy selling pushed it to the lowest in almost five years. Data suggests the Swiss National Bank is now ramping up its market interventions to weaken its currency.

Against the pound, the US currency rose 0.35 per cent to $1.3080. The dollar gradually accelerated after US stock futures opened higher and Treasury yields climbed off record lows.

Oil futures also stabilised somewhat in Asia on Tuesday after the previous day's dive, as global markets tried to regain some composure, but many traders warn that recent turmoil has been so dramatic that risks are still tilted down.

The plunge in crude prices on Monday was yet another jolt to financial markets, which were already reeling as investors counted the mounting economic costs of a global coronavirus epidemic.

In the onshore market, the yuan was little changed at 6.9471 per dollar. Chinese officials said growth in the number of new cases of the coronavirus, which emerged in the central Chinese province of Hubei late last year, is slowing. However, its rapid spread in Italy and the United States is likely to keep investors on edge.

Money markets show the Fed, which stunned investors with a surprise 50 basis point rate cut last week, is likely to ease policy further in the future. The Fed is also injecting cash into the banking system in a sign of underlying financing stress in the world's largest economy.

Expectations for Fed easing are likely to bring the dollar and US yields back down, but for the time being on Tuesday the greenback got a brief respite. The currencies of oil-producing countries also managed to rise slightly after a mauling on Monday.

The Russian rouble rose 1 per cent against the dollar. The Mexican peso tacked on 0.4 per cent, while the Norwegian krone edged 0.1 per cent higher. The Canadian dollar gained 0.32 per cent, pulling back slightly from its lowest since 2017.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars, which are linked to global commodity trade and China's economy, both fell 0.3 per cent on Tuesday, reflecting the bounce in the greenback.

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Published on March 10, 2020
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