Dollar Down, but Set for Weekly Gain, as COVID-19 Worries Bite
The dollar was down on Friday morning in Asia. However, the greenback is set for its best weekly gain in about a month as ongoing investor worries about a quicker-than-expected U.S. interest rate hike and by rising COVID-19 infections capped losses.
The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies inched down 0.06% to 92.575 by 11:45 PM ET (3:46 AM GMT).
The USD/JPY pair inched up 0.09% to 109.95. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) concluded a two-day meeting earlier in the day, where it left its yield curve control (YCC) target unchanged at -0.1% for short-term interest rates and 0% for 10-year bond yields. BOJ also cut the current fiscal year’s growth forecast while maintaining that the economy was headed for a moderate recovery.
The AUD/USD pair edged up 0.15% to 0.7438, but with the lockdown in Australia’s biggest cities of Melbourne and Sydney weighing on the Australian dollar.
Across the Tasman Sea, the NZD/USD pair gained 0.57% to 0.7020.
The USD/CNY pair edged up 0.13% to 6.4655 and the GBP/USD pair inched up 0.07% to 13838, with the U.K. set to lift most of its remaining COVID-19 on Jul. 19.
New Zealand’s consumer price index (CPI) for the second quarter was higher than expected, growing 3.3% year-on-year and 1.3% quarter-on-quarter, a decade high. The New Zealand dollar was among the biggest mover amongst majors in the morning trade after the data’s release.
Investors are now pricing an 86% chance that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will hike interest rates in August, earlier than expected, becoming the first developed-market central bank to exit from emergency policy settings should it do so.
However, a firm greenback meant that the New Zealand dollar remained within recent ranges.
“Clearly the U.S. dollar has got some power behind it, and I think that’s holding back all the majors… there’s an interest rate side to it, and sometimes it’s a safe-haven bid… we do feel that the dollar’s going to be quite strong over the next few months,” Westpac strategist Imre Speizer told Reuters.
With Speizer adding that recent U.S. data fed into higher yields and rate-increase expectations, investors now await data on June core retail sales as well as the Michigan consumer sentiment and expectations indexes, due later in the day.
U.S. Treasuries recorded a third consecutive week of gains, with worries over surging COVID-19 outbreaks involving the Delta variant and bets on inflation being transitory pulling long-end yields lower.
The Thai baht, one of the currencies most battered by the recent COVID-19 outbreaks, was set for a fifth consecutive weekly loss as the country posted a record number of daily cases.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies fell towards the bottom of recent ranges, with bitcoin at $31,660 and ether at $1,910.