Dollar rebounds as Washington, Beijing tamp down trade tensions

Reuters TOKYO | Updated on August 27, 2019

The yen rose on Tuesday as some investors tempered their optimism about the chances for a quick resolution to the United States (US)-China trade war, which boosted so-called risk-off trades.

Global markets have been whipsawed by dramatic twists in the trade dispute this month. US President Donald Trump on Monday flagged the possibility of a trade deal with China, days after both sides announced new tariffs.

The dollar came under additional pressure versus the yen as a decline in US Treasury yields showed some investors still favoured the safety of government debt.

The currency market also took some relief from a stronger-than-expected daily yuan fixing by the People's Bank of China, which many traders considered an attempt to slow the yuan's decline versus the dollar.

While Washington and Beijing have shown a willingness to return to the negotiating table to resolve their trade row, there are lingering concerns about a lack of a clear path towards resolving a dispute that has dragged on for more than a year and hurt global growth, corporate profits and investments.

“The dollar rallied overnight due to optimism about a trade deal, but there's a sense that the market has gotten a little ahead of itself,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior foreign exchange strategist at IG Securities.

“Some traders can book a little profit here. There are still so many issues that can trigger a clash between the United States and China. Treasuries shows the market is still somewhat sceptical,” Ishikawa added.

The yen rose around 0.4 per cent in Asian trading to 105.73 per dollar.

The yen, which tends to be bought in times of economic uncertainty, also rose around 0.4 per cent versus the Australian and New Zealand dollars.

Dollar falls 0.06 per cent

The dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of six major currencies fell 0.06 per cent to 97.960.

Benchmark 10-year US Treasury yields fell to 1.5232 per cent in Asia. The yield curve was inverted as 2-year yields traded at 1.5267 per cent, which is commonly considered a sign of an impending economic recession.

On Monday the greenback rebounded from near eight- month lows of 104.46 yen after some signs of rapprochement between Washington and Beijing soothed investors' nerves.

Speaking on the sidelines of the G7 summit of world leaders in France on Monday, US President Donald Trump said Chinese officials had contacted US trade counterparts overnight and offered to return to the negotiating table.

Trump's comments sparked a wave of so-called risk-on trades, which initially boosted the dollar, weakened safe-haven currencies, and lifted stock markets.

However, some doubts have crept into markets as a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said he had not heard that a phone call between the two sides had taken place. The Commerce Ministry, which typically releases statements on trade calls, did not respond to a request for comment.

Prior to market opening, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) lowered its official onshore yuan midpoint to 7.0810 per dollar. That was a fresh 11-1/2-year low, but still at a stronger setting than traders had expected. The onshore yuan had slipped as much as 0.7 per cent at one point on Monday.

The offshore yuan opened at 7.1445 per dollar before trading at 7.1580 as of 0246 GMT. Attempts to slow the greenback's rise against the yuan also weighed it down versus the yen, traders said.

“I was quite surprised by the big gains in the dollar/yen overnight. But it is not clear what the US and China will do next, and I would expect the dollar to consolidate for the time being,” said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of forex at Societe Generale.

The euro stood at $1.1105, up 0.05 per cent so far in Asia.

Sterling traded at $1.2215, after a 0.5 per cent fall on Monday as investors reassessed whether British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had made any progress in convincing the European Union to renegotiate the Brexit agreement.

Johnson said on Monday he was prepared to take Brexit talks with the European Union down to the very last minute before the Oct. 31 exit deadline, and if necessary to take a decision to leave without a deal on that day.

Published on August 27, 2019

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