Dollar steadies after falling overnight on downbeat US data

Reuters TOKYO | Updated on September 18, 2020 Published on September 18, 2020

The dollar was steady in early Asia trading on Friday after falling overnight as downbeat US data cast a shadow over the economic outlook, while the Japanese yen stabilised after rising against the greenback and the euro the previous day.

The dollar gave up gains made after the Federal Reserve upgraded its 2020 GDP forecast this week to trade in negative territory on Thursday. It was last quoted at 92.866 against a basket of major currencies, and was on track for a 0.3 per cent weekly loss.

A stream of US data showed jobless claims remained elevated at 860,000, while both housing starts and the Philadelphia Fed business index fell. The Fed this week said it expected the US economy to shrink by far less than previously forecast in 2020 and promised to keep rates ultra-low for a prolonged period.

The safe-haven yen last traded at 104.76 per dollar, after hitting a seven-week high at 104.52 on Thursday. Against the euro, the yen hovered near the 1-1/2 month high of 123.29 touched overnight, changing hands at 124.14.

“The dollar/yen dropped overnight almost too much, although it's been falling since Monday,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities.

He said losses in US stock futures were also contributing to a weaker dollar. US stocks fell on Thursday as technology-related shares slid for a second day and as the downbeat economic data weighed on the wider market.

“For the dollar to regain its upward trend, its necessary for the market to make sure that the U.S. stocks take a pause from a correction in stock prices,” he said.

Sterling bought $1.2986, having lost around one cent on Thursday after the Bank of England said it was looking more closely at how it might implement negative interest rates amid rising coronavirus infection cases, higher unemployment and a possible new Brexit shock.

But the cable later erased losses after the Financial Times reported that European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said she was convinced a trade deal with Britain was still possible.

The euro, meanwhile, was little changed at 1.1853 per dollar on Friday. The euro zone PMI data next week will be a key focus, with some analysts saying a strong PMI could take the common currency back to the 1.19 level versus the dollar.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were marginally stronger in Asian trade, with the Aussie 0.15 per cent higher at $0.7323 and the kiwi trading up 0.34 per cent at $0.6778.

The offshore yuan was trading at 6.7524 per dollar after hitting a high of 6.7332. The yuan has risen more than 6 per centfrom lows against the dollar in late May as China's economy has recovered from the fallout of the coronavirus crisis, although its rapid rise has raised some concerns.

The Swiss franc was last quoted at 0.9078 against the greenback.

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Published on September 18, 2020
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