SINGAPORE: The dollar stood tall in the Asia session on Monday, helped by inexorably rising US yields, though the euro held its own in relief that the far right did not win the first round of French presidential elections.
The Japanese yen suffered the most selling, briefly touching as low as 125 per dollar and last sitting 0.5% weaker at 124.86. Investors saw little reason to exit bets against the yen while the Bank of Japan holds yields near zero.
Treasury yields, by contrast, are shooting higher. The benchmark 10-year yield added another seven basis points to top 2.77% on Monday as the Federal Reserve readies to cut its asset holdings and move interest rates sharply higher.
“There’s nothing there to frighten people out of dollar/yen positions,” said National Australia Bank’s head of foreign exchange Ray Attrill. “So onwards and upwards for dollar/yen.”
Nervousness at the economic fallout from deepening COVID-19 lockdowns in China also rippled across markets on Monday, with commodity prices and commodity currencies down along with Chinese equities.
Ten-year Treasury yields topped their Chinese counterpart for the first time in a dozen years and the yuan inched 0.1% lower.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars each fell 0.3%. The euro was a standout gainer and flickered as high as $1.0955 in thin early trade before settling about 0.1% higher than Friday’s close at $1.0883.
After breaching 100 on Friday the US dollar index sat at 99.923.
With 96% of votes counted in the first round of France’s presidential election, incumbent Emmanuel Macron garnered 27.41% and his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen was next with 24.03%, setting up a runoff contest on April 24.
A Le Pen victory could send shockwaves through France and Europe in ways similar to Britain’s vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, and relief at the first-round result was soon capped.
“It’s a patchy bit of support,” said Westpac strategist Imre Speizer, as investors are also bracing for a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on Thursday.
The ECB has been weighing rising consumer prices against pressure on growth from war in Ukraine. It is expected to give more details about a wind-down in asset purchases, but may not give any explicit hints about hikes.
A US consumer price report due on Tuesday is expected to show annual inflation at an eye-watering 8.5%, heaping more pressure on the Federal Reserve to move urgently.
Central bank meetings are also due in Canada and New Zealand on Wednesday and interest rate swaps pricing indicates that traders see a more than 90% chance that each hikes rates by 50 basis points.
That could leave both currencies vulnerable if a smaller rate rise is delivered.
The New Zealand dollar was last about 0.3% softer at $0.6831, while the Canadian dollar fell by about the same margin to C$1.2605 per greenback.
Elsewhere, the Australian dollar pulled back in tandem with iron ore prices and touched a three-week low of $0.7418. Sterling slipped 0.15 to $1.3015.