Dollar hugs narrow ranges as virus spikes, yuan falls

Reuters TOKYO | Updated on July 17, 2020 Published on July 17, 2020

For the week, US unit on course to register gains against yen, sterling, Swiss franc

The dollar held onto gains against most currencies as worries that a resurgence in the coronavirus is starting to curb economic activity drew safe-haven flows into the US currency.

The yuan fell by the most in three weeks, undone by a steady increase in diplomatic friction between the US and China.

The euro was well supported by hopes that European officials will agree on fiscal stimulus measures at a meeting starting later on Friday.

Some investors say they are beginning to see troubling signs in recent data that a relentless surge in coronavirus infections is threatening the US economy.

Others point to a widening row between the US and China as reason to avoid risky trades, which should keep the dollar in demand for the time being.

“The dollar looks like a good safe haven now because of worries about a return to coronavirus lockdowns,” said Minori Uchida, head of global market research at MUFG Bank.

“But I worry that the dollar will start to lose this status if long-term Treasury yields continue to fall.”

The dollar stood at 107.24 yen in Asia on Friday, following a 0.3 per cent gain in the previous session. The euro held steady at $1.1381 and was marginally higher against the British pound at 90.60 pence.

Sterling was little changed at $1.2560 on Friday. The dollar was quoted at 0.9460 Swiss franc, close to the highest since July 3.

For the week, the dollar was on course for gains against the yen, sterling, and the Swiss franc due to safe-haven inflows.

Another jump in coronavirus infections has forced California and other US states to at least partially shut down again, raising fears the economy and labour market will continue to struggle.

In addition, US President Donald Trump's administration is considering banning travel to the US by all members of the Chinese Communist Party, according to a person familiar with the matter, in a move that would surely put further strain on relations between Washington and Beijing.

This week the US has ratcheted up the pressure on China in a wide-ranging dispute over civil liberties, access to technology, and territorial claims that some analysts liken to a new cold war.

The onshore yuan fell by the most since June 24 to 7.0041, reflecting the growing concern about the Sino-US relationship.

The euro will take centre stage later on Friday as European Union leaders will meet in Brussels as they seek to overcome their differences over a proposed stimulus package.

The stakes are high because the coronavirus pandemic has caused considerable damage and some short-term measures supporting the labour market will soon expire.

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Published on July 17, 2020
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