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Markets

Dollar firm amid optimism over economic reopening; Norway's crown jumps

"Markets are quietly risk-on overnight," said Adam Cole, chief currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets. The
18 May 2020
  • "Markets are quietly risk-on overnight," said Adam Cole, chief currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
  • The dollar index, which posted gains of about 0.6% last week, inched up 0.02% after drifting slightly in negative territory in the early hours of trading in Europe.

LONDON: The dollar held firm on Monday as optimism about a reopening of economies stifled by the coronavirus pandemic kindled cautious risk appetite, with a jump in oil prices lifting commodity currencies such as the Norwegian krone.

The gradual easing of lockdowns has raised hope across global markets despite signs of fresh trade tensions between the United States and China, though traders were wary of taking big bets before more data this week.

"Markets are quietly risk-on overnight," said Adam Cole, chief currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

The dollar index, which posted gains of about 0.6% last week, inched up 0.02% after drifting slightly in negative territory in the early hours of trading in Europe.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's willingness to print more dollars and extend the monetary stimulus further to fight the coronavirus economic crisis was welcomed by investors.

Bets against the US dollar shrank to the smallest position in seven weeks in the latest week, according to calculations by Reuters and US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday.

The Norwegian krone was lifted by rising oil prices, supported by output cuts and signs of a recovery in demand.

"The surge in oil prices will also provide a selective opportunity to sell the US dollar against oil-sensitive major currencies," wrote Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp.

Against the dollar, the krone jumped 0.7% to 10.1770. Other commodity currencies also rose and gold gained more than 1.2% to its highest in over seven years.

Gains in stocks also lifted other major currencies such as the Australian dollar, which was up half a percent at $0.6446. The euro fell 0.1% to $1.0806.

Against the yen, the US currency lost about 0.2% at 107.20 per dollar after data showed Japan slipped into recession for the first time since 2015. Policymakers are bracing for the nation's worst postwar slump.

Investors were also looking to Purchasing Managers' Index surveys due across major economies later this week for the next insight into the outlook.

The pound took back some ground lost earlier against the euro and was trading at 89.14 pence after a week-long deadlock over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.

Money markets also ramped up expectations of negative interest rates in the United Kingdom for the first time ever as policymakers debated further steps to support the struggling British economy.

The Bank of England's chief economist, Andy Haldane, did not rule out such a move in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper published on Saturday.