LONDON: The dollar paused on Friday as concerns about a surge in coronavirus infections in the United States and elsewhere supported the safe haven Japanese yen.
More than 60,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported across the United States on Thursday, the largest single-day tally by any country in the global pandemic so far, discouraging some American consumers from returning to public spaces.
Some Asia Pacific cities that had appeared to have contained the disease, such as Tokyo, Hong Kong and Melbourne, have seen alarming new spikes in infections, dampening the mood further.
The caution helped to drive the safe-haven yen up by nearly 0.5% to a two-week high of 106.72 per dollar.
"The Japanese yen has been trading within a very tight trading range throughout the crisis. We're definitely back towards the bottom of that range," said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at MUFG.
The dollar gained in Asian trading hours but later lost momentum, and was broadly flat against a basket of currencies. The euro and British pound battled back to broadly flat after earlier losses.
The Chinese yuan was down about 0.1% at close to 7 yuan per dollar, having touched a near-four-month high of 6.9808 on Thursday. The Chinese currency has gained almost 1% this week, supported by hopes of capital inflows as share prices rebounded after Beijing indicated it wants a healthy bull market.
Higher China debt yields are also attracting foreign capital, said Dmitriy Vlasov, portfolio adviser at East Capital in Hong Kong. "We have had quite a big inflows in the fixed income markets as interest rate differentials are also leading to the appreciation of the yuan."