FOREX

FOREX-Dollar hits new 9-1/2 month high as FX traders seek safety – Yahoo Finance


* Dollar rises amid concern over COVID-19 impact on economy

* Aussie, New Zealand dollars fall sharply

* Investors cautious but trading calmer than Thursday

* Graphic: World FX rates https://tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar hit a new 9-1/2-month high against major peers on Friday, buoyed by fears that the Delta coronavirus variant could delay the global economic recovery just as central banks begin to reverse pandemic-era stimulus.

While moves in currency markets were much more contained than on Thursday as equity markets stabilised, the risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars fell sharply again.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against six rivals, rose as high as 93.597 for the first time since early November, before trading little changed at 93.535. For the week, it is on track to gain about 1%, the most in two months.

“Trade-weighted measures of the dollar are pushing to new highs for the year. This comes at a time of bullish flattening in the US yield curve – typically representing a more pessimistic re-assessment of growth prospects,” ING currency analysts wrote in a note.

“So even though the mood-music from the Fed is very much one of a glide-path to tapering, it looks like a lot of demand for the dollar is coming from investors pulling out of growth stories overseas.”

Minutes of the Fed’s July meeting, released on Wednesday, showed officials largely expect to reduce their monthly bond buying later this year.

The Australian dollar sank to a new 9 1/2-month low of $0.7115, down 0.4%, putting it on track for its worst weekly performance since September 2020, as a COVID-19 lockdown on Sydney was extended by a month.

New Zealand’s kiwi dipped to a new nine-month trough of $0.6808. The government on Friday extended a snap COVID-19 lockdown that delayed the central bank raising interest rates this week.

The Canadian dollar dropped to a new six-month low of C$1.2832 amid a fall in oil prices triggered by worries about the global economy.

“Risk aversion in the air has buoyed the greenback, with pro-growth currencies bearing the brunt of it,” Rodrigo Catril, a strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a client note.

The euro rose 0.1% to $1.1682, but still traded near the 9-1/2-month low of $1.16655 reached overnight. It is down nearly 1% this week, the most since mid-June.

The yen, another safe-haven currency, fell slightly versus the dollar 109.69.

Sterling slipped to one-month lows versus both the dollar and the euro.

Emerging markets have also had a bruising week. A regulatory crackdown in China and the concerns over growth and COVID-19 have sent investors looking for safer assets.

The Chinese yuan sank to a new three-week low of 6.51 per dollar in the offshore market before trading about 0.1% weaker at 6.505.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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