The dollar edged up against its peers on Friday, finding support as the latest episode of U.S.-China trade tensions dulled investor risk appetite, with weakness in emerging market currencies also helping lift the greenback.
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was a shade higher at 94.748. The index had nudged up about 0.15 percent overnight, ending a four-day losing streak.
The greenback, which tends to attract safe haven bids in times of market turmoil and political tensions, drew its latest swell of support as investors braced for the next round of the U.S.-China trade conflict.
Bloomberg News reported on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump is prepared to quickly ramp up a trade war with China and has told aides he is ready to impose tariffs on $200 billion more in Chinese imports as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends next week.
“There is an ongoing trend to buy the dollar on the trade friction theme, which has negatively affected emerging market currencies and in turn fuels the dollar’s rise,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.
“The euro has also taken hits, due to the euro zone’s perceived exposure to emerging market economies.”
The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.1662 after losing about 0.3 percent overnight when a rise in Italian government bond yields put additional pressure on the currency.
Italian bond yields spiked on Thursday amid concerns that tax cuts and welfare spending proposed by the country’s ruling coalition could worsen its debt situation. The Italian/German bond yield spread reached its widest since 2013 as a result.
“It is a bit of stretch to attribute all the euro’s woes to turbulence in emerging market currencies like the Turkish lira and the Argentine peso,” said Daisuke Karakama, chief market economist at Mizuho Bank.
“That said, the prospect for emerging currencies remain bleak overall and will continue to fan risk aversion. And the euro is not a currency that the market gravitates towards in times of ‘risk off’,” Karakama added.
Argentina’s peso lost nearly one-fifth of its value on Thursday and fell to a record low versus the dollar.
The peso has slid as investors’ faith in President Mauricio’s ability to tackle the economic crisis his country faces has evaporated. A huge hike in interest rates from Argentina’s central bank did little to arrest the peso’s fall.
The South African rand dipped 0.35 percent to 14.76 per dollar after retreating more than 2 percent in overnight trade.
China’s yuan was about 0.15 percent firmer in onshore trade at 6.8344 per dollar after shedding 0.35 percent the previous day.
The Japanese yen stood little changed at 111.000. The yen, another perceived safe haven along with the dollar and Swiss franc, had advanced 0.6 percent on Thursday.
The Swiss currency rose for the sixth successive session to reach 0.9680 franc per dollar, its strongest since mid-April.
The pound stood little changed at $1.3009. Sterling surged 1.2 percent this week, touching a four-week peak of $1.3043 on Thursday, boosted by reduced risk of a no-deal Brexit for Britain. (Reuters)