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CURRENCIES

Greenback dips versus yen

New York

THE US dollar slipped against the safe-haven Japanese yen on Friday as investors fretted over concerns that a spreading virus from China would curb travel and hurt demand.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday confirmed a second US case of the new coronavirus from China in a Chicago woman, and said as many as 63 potential cases were being investigated as the illness continues to spread around the globe. A third US case was confirmed over the weekend. The newly discovered virus has now killed 56 people and infected more than 2,000. Most of the cases and all of the deaths so far have been in China.

Against the yen the US dollar was 0.22 per cent lower at 109.24 yen.

"The dollar and yen rallied modestly in New York trade on Friday, with safe-haven buying the main driver into the weekend," Ronald Simpson, managing director, global currency analysis at Action Economics, said. "Nerves were ramped up some as the coronavirus outbreak appeared to have worsened."

The US dollar's appeal as a safe haven helped boost it near an eight-week high against the euro on Friday. The move was aided by lukewarm European PMI data that added to the broader market conviction that European central bank policymakers will maintain a loose monetary policy for the near future.

Eurozone business activity remained lacklustre with the IHS Markit's Euro Zone Composite Flash Purchasing Managers' Index holding at 50.9 in January but missing the median prediction in a Reuters poll for 51.2. The euro was 0.23 per cent lower against the greenback at US$1.1027.

Sterling retreated on Friday, after initially strengthening, as some investors still expected an interest rate cut this week even though business surveys pointed to a post-election bounce in Britain's economy. The pound was 0.33 per cent lower against the greenback. REUTERS