Dollar drifts lower in tight trading ranges


NEW YORK: The dollar edged lower in early European trade Friday, but trading ranges have been tight as traders attempt to weigh up the conflicting forces of a continued economic recovery with heightened tensions over China’s move to tighten control over Hong Kong.
At 2:55 AM ET (0655 GMT), the U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, stood at 98.293, down 0.1%, while USD/JPY fell 0.4% to 107.18 and GBP/USD rose 0.2% at 1.2344.
German retail sales fell at their fastest pace since 2007 in April, data showed on Friday, but the drop – at 5.3% on the month – was not as steep as expected in a sign of the relative resilience of Europe’s largest economy during the coronavirus crisis. March’s figures were also revised to reflect a gentler decline.
While in the U.S., Thursday’s initial jobless claims data showed that more than two million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week. This is another horrendous figure, but the weekly totals have continued to fall since hitting a peak of 6.8 million in late March.
“At the moment, hopes for economic recovery are strong, but I expect this to gradually fade to increased concern about the U.S.-China relationship,” said Minori Uchida, head of global market research at MUFG Bank in Tokyo.
“When that happens, there will be more risk-off trades, which supports buying of both the dollar and the yen.”
At the moment the foreign exchange markets are holding their breath ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement in response to China parliament’s passing of an anti-sedition law relating to Hong Kong.
“The question is how far Trump will go at today’s press conference, as removing Hong Kong’s favored status would probably spark negative market developments, hitting global risk sentiment,” said analysts at Danske Bank, in a research note to clients.
At 2:55 AM ET, USD/CNY traded at 7.1515, not far off the record of 7.1966 reached on Thursday.
The euro has continued to strengthen Friday, driven by increased confidence in the global economy but also by EU institutions starting to agree that an accommodative stance is indeed needed, especially in terms of fiscal policy.
“We see the latest European Commission proposals for an increase in the EU Budget and a recovery fund of €750bn as a potential game changer,” said analysts at Barclays (LON:BARC), in a research note.
At 02:55 AM ET, EUR/USD traded at $1.1098, up 0.2%, having earlier broken through the $1.11 level for the first time since late March.