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Dollar weakens against yen on demand for safer assets

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The dollar declined against the yen on Wednesday on expectations a US interest rate rise will be delayed while demand for safer assets increased on the back of volatile oil prices and worries about China's economy.

[TOKYO] The dollar declined against the yen on Wednesday on expectations a US interest rate rise will be delayed while demand for safer assets increased on the back of volatile oil prices and worries about China's economy.

Concerns about the slowdown of Chinese growth kept the pressure on investors who, spooked by Tuesday's disappointing trade data and another weak inflation reading Wednesday, shifted into lower yield assets considered safer bets.

The greenback was at 119.68 yen compared with 119.72 yen on Tuesday in New York, after trading at 119.58 yen in early exchanges.

The move into safety follows a July-September quarter that saw trillions wiped off valuations owing to China's economic malaise and expectations the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates.

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A sustained recovery in risk appetite could likely take time, analysts said.

"Risk aversion is prompting the buying back of funding currencies such as the euro," Akira Moroga, manager of currency products at Aozora Bank, told Bloomberg News. "Among the majors, the yen, the euro and dollar are bought, in that order." The euro was flat at 136.26 yen, while it edged up to US$1.1385 from US$1.1381 in US trade.

The dollar had been rallying for most of the year on expectations the Fed would gradually start raising interest rates.

However, central bank policy makers have turned dovish in recent weeks - helping emerging markets currencies - owing to turmoil on global markets caused by the China crisis.

But the US unit has picked up over the past two days as nervousness returns to trading floors.

Emerging currencies were mixed against the US unit on Wednesday owing to volatile oil prices that saw the price of the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate see-saw in and out of positive territory.

The Indonesian rupiah advanced 0.17 per cent against the dollar on Wednesday, the South Korean won gained 0.10 per cent, the Taiwanese dollar rose 0.27 per cent and the Singapore dollar was up 0.60 per cent.

The resource-reliant Australian dollar retreated 0.21 per cent, while among other emerging units, the Malaysian ringgit and the Philippine peso were also down.

"As long as oil prices are at current levels, any recovery in risk appetite could be temporary and a false alarm," Citigroup's Osamu Takashima told Bloomberg News.

"Since August, markets have generally seen risk aversion (...). Oil demands reflect the real economy, fundamentals especially China."

The price of crude has surged since hitting a six-year low in late August and so far this month has enjoyed gains of around 10 per cent as dealers bet the Fed will delay a rate hike.

Higher US rates make the greenback stronger, which in turn increases the cost of dollar-priced oil, dampening demand.

AFP

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