Forex

Dollar, yen supported as caution prevails on mixed trade signals

Reuters Singapore | Updated on November 20, 2019 Published on November 20, 2019

File photo   -  Reuters

The yen touched 108.37 per dollar

The dollar and the safe-haven yen found support on Wednesday as a lack of clarity on United States (US)-China trade talks kept investors cautious ahead of the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's last policy meeting.

Moves were slight as jaded traders again weighed mixed messages on trade, with more upbeat reports offset by US President Donald Trump delivering yet another warning of more tariffs if talks fail.

After falling overnight, the greenback rose a little on the Australian dollar to $0.6824 and on the New Zealand dollar to $0.6426.

It was marginally higher against the euro at $1.1077 and against a basket of currencies the dollar last traded a little stronger at 97.862.

The yen, regarded as a safe-haven by virtue of Japan's status as the world's biggest creditor, touched 108.37 per dollar, its highest since Friday.

“It's a very slightly risk-averse day. There's a slightly cautious tone and mixed messages from the trade war negotiations,” said Westpac FX analyst Imre Spiezer.

The US and China have been locked in tit-for-tat tariff hikes that have dented the global economy.

Hopes for progress on the dispute had risen overnight when it was reported that negotiations, which failed in May, would be considered a baseline in deciding what US tariffs on China would be rolled back.

However, speaking at a cabinet meeting at the White House overnight, Trump noted that China was “moving along,” but any deal would need to be one he liked.

“If we don't make a deal with China, I'll just raise the tariffs even higher,” he told a room filled with senior US officials.

The US Senate's unanimous passage of a bill aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong amid a crackdown on demonstrations was also seen likely to raise tensions between the negotiating parties.

The Chinese yuan - the currency most sensitive to the trade dispute - dropped to a two-week low of 7.0335 per dollar in offshore trade early in the Asian day.

Traders and analysts also widely expect China will cut its new benchmark lending rate when it is fixed at 0130 GMT.

Elsewhere, the British pound fell slightly overnight after an inconclusive election debate between Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who leads in the polls, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

It was steady at $1.2919 in Asian trade.

The release of the Fed minutes from October are the next major scheduled event for markets, with investors looking for insight into the reasoning for last month's rate cut.

“In particular, clues for whether October was a 'hawkish cut,' with a high bar for any further easing, or a 'dovish pause' with a bias for more easing will be sought,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy for Mizuho Banlk in Singapore.

Published on November 20, 2019
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