Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Dollar Slips Amid Trump's Hardening Policy Defence, Yen Benefits

By Shinichi Saoshiro
Reuters
January 31, 2017

The dollar slipped against the yen on Tuesday, as the Japanese currency benefited from its safe-haven status, with the appetite for risk curbed by U.S. President Donald Trump's hardening defence over his immigration policies.

The dollar was down 0.2 percent at 113.570 yen after dropping to as low as 113.240. It lost more than 1 percent overnight, when it was knocked off its perch above 115.000.

The latest blow against the dollar was initiated after Trump ordered a temporary ban over the weekend on the entry of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

On Monday, the president fired acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend Trump's new travel restrictions.

Selling of the dollar appeared to have briefly gained momentum after Trump's move, said a dealer at a Japanese bank.

The Bank of Japan's well-anticipated decision to stand pat on monetary policy on Tuesday had little lasting impact, although the dollar did briefly rise above 113.700 following the announcement before drifting lower again.

"Dollar/yen weakness started overnight, which is much more driven by U.S. policy. The BOJ's no change decision resulted in a 'continue on' with the established direction," said Bart Wakabayashi, head of Hong Kong FX sales at State Street Global Markets.

While the BOJ on Tuesday maintained a pledge to guide short-term interest rates at minus 0.1 percent and the 10-year government bond yield to around zero percent, the financial markets have begun to speculate about when the central bank might allow long-term rates to drift higher.

The euro was flat at $1.0696. The common currency had clawed back from an 11-day low of $1.0620 on Monday, helped by data showing German consumer price inflation hit the highest in 3-1/2 years and nearing the European Central Bank's price stability target of just under 2 percent.

The euro was poised to gain 1.7 percent against the dollar this month.

The pound was up 0.2 percent at $1.2516, but still within reach of a near one-week low of $1.2466 plumbed overnight on nervousness ahead of Thursday's Bank of England policy meeting.

The Australian dollar added 0.15 percent to $0.7564, on track for its third straight day of gains against its U.S. counterpart.

The New Zealand dollar was virtually flat at $0.7288, staying in proximity of an 11-week peak of $0.7314 scaled last week.

The Aussie and kiwi were both on track to end the month roughly 5 percent against the volatile greenback.

The dollar index against a basket of major currencies was down 0.1 percent at 100.360. It was poised to lose 1.8 percent this month.

The index had soared to a 14-year high of 103.820 at the start of January when market expectations towards Trump still centred on potential stimulus plans under the new president.


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