Business News

Dollar Up, Fears of Ukraine Invasions Supports Safe-Haven Currencies

By Gina Lee – The dollar was up on Monday morning in Asia, but losses were minimal as safe-haven currencies held gains and riskier ones struggled to hold onto them. Investors also remained concerned about potential conflict in Eastern Europe, alongside soaring inflation.

The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies inched up 0.01% to 96.082 by 12:04 PM ET (5:04 AM GMT).

The USD/JPY pair inched up 0.06% to 115.48.

The AUD/USD pair was down 0.24% to 0.7118, with Australian jobs data due on Thursday and the possibility of surprising numbers driving Australian dollar volatility gauges to nearly one-year highs. The NZD/USD pair was down 0.38% to 0.6622.

The USD/CNY pair inched up 0.08% to 6.3597 while the GBP/USD pair edged down 0.13% to 1.3542.

Increasing concerns of a Russian invasion of Ukraine saw the euro tumble to $1.1360 from the previous week’s high of $1.1495. The riskier Australian and New Zealand dollars also remained below the previous week’s levels, and the Russian rouble saw its sharpest fall in nearly two years on Friday.

The U.S. sounded the alarm on Sunday that Russia could create a surprise pretext to invade its neighbor, which Russia has denied. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will head to Ukraine later in the day, followed by a trip to Moscow the day after, and warned of sanctions if an attack takes place.

The tension is the latest shock to a market already reeling from the previous week’s high U.S. inflation data. Although concerns about an emergency rate hike have somewhat subsided, some investors expect the dollar to stay supported.

“With Fed hike expectations surging again and geopolitical tensions in Ukraine escalating dramatically the dollar index should be back on the front foot again,” Westpac analysts said in a note.

The dollar steadied earlier in the session, with the euro, which dropped 1.2% on the yen on Friday, and oil importers’ currencies viewed as most at risk from any conflict in Ukraine.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde will address the European Parliament, while Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard will also speak to the media, later in the day.

The pound was steady, with investors convinced the Bank of England will hike its own rates in March 2022 and pricing about a 40% chance of a 50-basis point rise.

Across the Atlantic, the Fed will release the minutes from its last meeting on Wednesday. The previous week’s talk about an inter-meeting interest rate hike died down somewhat after the Fed released an unchanged bond-buying schedule for the coming month. The central bank will increase interest rates only after its buying has ceased.


A trader shows U.S. dollar notes at a currency exchange booth in Peshawar, Pakistan December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

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