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22 / 05 / 20
Reuters: The dollar held gains against major currencies on Friday as worries about renewed diplomatic tensions between the United States and China supported safe-haven demand for the greenback. The yuan nursed losses in offshore trade, but further declines may be limited in the local session on Friday as Chinese officials are expected to unveil new economic stimulus measures. Sino-U.S. relations have soured yet again over a broad range of issues, including China’s treatment of the former British colony of Hong Kong and its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing risk aversion to spread.
The dollar traded at $1.0950 per euro in Asia on Friday, following a 0.3% increase in the previous session. The dollar bought 0.9705 Swiss franc after posting its biggest gain in more than two weeks on Thursday. Sterling held steady at $1.2227 before data later on Friday expected to show a plunge in British retail sales. China is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong after last year’s pro-democracy unrest, a Chinese official said on Thursday. U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that Washington would react “very strongly” to the legislation. There is a risk that Hong Kong could lose some of its favourable U.S. trading terms that have helped it maintain its position as a global financial centre. Washington and Beijing are also at loggerheads over Chinese companies’ access to advanced technology and criticism of Beijing’s response after the novel coronavirus emerged late last year in the central Chinese province of Hubei. The friction stirs memories of last year’s drawn-out trade war between the United States and China, which roiled global financial markets. Offshore, the yuan stood at 7.1314 per dollar on Friday after falling in the previous session by the most in three weeks.
The focus is on whether the yuan extends declines in onshore trade today. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is expected to unveil stimulus measures when the National People’s Congress starts on Friday to spur its economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus. Elsewhere, the yen held steady at 107.63 per dollar. The Bank of Japan will hold an emergency meeting later on Friday to decide the details of a lending scheme for small companies hurt by the pandemic. The antipodean currencies nursed losses as risk sentiment took a blow. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6568 after a 0.4% decline on Thursday, while the New Zealand dollar last stood at $0.6123.
FXStreet: USD/JPY drops from 107.72 to 107.60 after the BOJ’s inaction during the early Friday. The Japanese central bank left monetary policy unchanged during the surprise meeting while announcing targeted aids for the small and mid-sized firms. The BOJ meeting wide market expectations of no change in the short-term interest rate or the Japanese Government Bond (JGB) yield target while announcing 75 trillion loans to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Other than the BOJ, the recently worrisome headlines from China’s 13th National People's Congress (NPC) concerning Hong Kong also weigh on the market’s risk-tone. Earlier during the day, the US Senate Majority Leader McConnell said that further China crackdown on Hong Kong will intensify the Senate’s interest in re-examining the US-China relationship. Further to note that the NPC stopped offering any target for the next year's GDP while pleding to implement the US trade deal.
That said, the US 10-year treasury yields remain soft near 0.675% whereas Japan’s NIKKEI drop 0.18% to 20,510 by the press time. Considering the lack of major data on the econmic calendar, traders may now keep eyes on the updates from China for fresh impulse. An ascending trend line from May 07, at 107.55 now, can check sellers during the further declines while highs marked during mid-April and May 19, around 108.10, become the key resistance.
FXStreet: AUD/USD is extending its multi-hour range play with sellers refusing to step in despite rating agency Fitch's decision to cut Australia's outlook to negative from stable. The rating agency affirmed Australia's prized AAA rating. While Australia's prized AAA rating has been retained, the outlook has been revised lower citing the impact on the economy and public finances from the coronavirus pandemic. Fitch expects the $2 trillion economy to contract by 5% this year, mainly due to a sharp downturn in the second quarter. The economy is forecasted to begin slow recovery in the second half of 2020.
So far, however, the news has failed to have a notable impact on the Aussie dollar. The AUD/USD pair continues to trade in the range of 0.6550 to 0.6576, which has been in place since Thursday's US trading hours. The Reserve Bank of Australia has recently winded down bond purchases with the three-year yield steadying near the target of 0.25%. That seems to be the source of AUD's resilience.
Looking ahead, the AUD may draw strength from China's decision to raise the fiscal deficit target to over 3.6% of its gross domestic product this year from the previous year's 2.8%. Essentially, the dragon nation will be spending more to support the economy. However, if the US-China tensions continue to escalate, the risk sentiment will likely weaken, pushing the growth-linked Aussie dollar lower. China's Premier Li was out on the wires a few minutes before press time asserting that his government will resolutely oppose and deter any separatist activities seeking Taiwan independence. Li's comments come on the heels of the US decision to sell $180 million worth of arms sales to Taiwan.
Reuters: Asian shares were set for another retreat on Friday as U.S.-China tensions curbed investor risk appetite and caused global equity markets to stumble. Hong Kong futures fell 1.59% and Nikkei futures were trading below the Nikkei 225 index's previous close, pointing to opening loss of 0.1%. Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures eased 0.13%. Global equities pulled back after Beijing was set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong. The move drew a warning from President Donald Trump, who said the United States would react “very strongly” against it. The back-and-forth between the world’s two largest economies stoked worries that the tensions could threaten “Phase 1” of a U.S.-China trade deal reached early this year.
That prompted Wall Street shares to slip from the two-month highs made in the previous session on hopes of a economic recovery as governments began to lift their coronavirus restrictions. The majority of the 11 S&P sector indexes declined, leaving the main benchmark S&P 500 down 0.78%. Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.41% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.97%. The U.S. dollar, seen as a safe-haven, rose amid those concerns. The dollar index which measures the greenback’s strength against six major currencies, was up 0.1%. Spot gold , also typically seen as a risk-off option, was little-changed after losses of 1% as investors booked profits or opted for cash. Brazil’s real BRBY jumped after the central bank said it was ready to increase support for the currency. The country is expected to soon become the second-worst hit globally by the pandemic as cases approach 300,000.
Crude oil futures rose to their highest since March, as recovering demand and production cuts offset investor jitters seen in other markets. “Thus far, traders were right to call a trough in global demand in April,” AxiCorp Chief Global Markets Strategist Stephen Innes said in a daily note. “Still, oil prices will remain sensitive to any hint that the easing of global lockdowns might result in the 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections and, therefore, a more protracted impact on demand.”