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CURRENCIES

Yen and dollar rise as investors seek safety

London

THE Japanese yen remained near seven-month highs on Tuesday and the US dollar rallied, as investors unnerved by the Sino-US trade war, protests in Hong Kong and a crash in Argentina's peso currency sought safety.

The euro briefly extended an earlier decline after a survey showed German sentiment deteriorated more than expected.

Investors have flocked to the yen amid an escalating trade war between China and the United States and worries about a global economic slowdown.

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The Japanese currency, along with the dollar and Swiss franc, is a safe haven in times of uncertainty.

The yen got a fresh boost from growing unrest in Hong Kong and surprise election results in Argentina that led to a rout in the country's currency, the peso, and stocks and bonds.

ING analysts said the yen was benefiting "from the best of both worlds", pointing to general risk aversion and a rush to price in more interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. They think the yen will rally to 102 or 103 per dollar later this year.

US Treasury yields have declined steadily recently, and the spread between US and Japanese benchmark 10-year yields has shrunk to its narrowest since November 2016.

The yen fell as much as 0.2 per cent to 105.1 per dollar.

It reached 105.05 on Monday, a seven-month high and, excluding the January flash crash, its strongest since early 2018.

The dollar rose 0.2 per cent against a basket of other currencies, its index reaching 97.563 before giving up some of those gains.

The Swiss franc, also viewed as a safe haven, rose 0.1 per cent to a two-year high against the euro of 1.0862 francs.

The euro was last down 0.1 per cent at US$1.1204 against the dollar, having fallen as low as US$1.1182.

The offshore Chinese yuan was little changed at 7.104 after the People's Bank of China set a midpoint rate at an 11-year low that was still stronger than expected.

A senior official at the People's Bank of China told Reuters on Tuesday that the yuan was at an appropriate level.

Argentina's peso lost more than 15 per cent to 52.15 per dollar on Monday after brushing a record low of 61.99.

Sterling bounced around US$1.2080, not far from the US$1.2015 it touched on Monday, its lowest in more than two years, as fears of a no-deal Brexit dominated trading. REUTERS