The dollar hit a nine-month high against the euro. The euro touched $1.1702 early in the Asia session, its lowest since November 2020, before recovering slightly to $1.1718. The kiwi, that was heavily sold, fell further to also make a nine-month trough at $0.6868 after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand held off on raising rates amid a snap lockdown in the country over seven COVID-19 cases. However, it soon recovered, climbing to $0.6933 because hikes were still on the horizon. Sterling and the commodity-exposed Australian and Canadian dollars all hovered near recent lows against the dollar as the market mood remained cautious.
Moh Siong Sim, currency analyst at Bank of Singapore said that the dollar is being supported by the nervous risk environment. He added that the markets are paying attention to the Delta variant and the area which is of most concern seems to be China. There’s a stock market that’s taken a bit of a beating recently, there’s regulatory risk and now there are COVID outbreaks in China. China’s markets have been roiled by a wide front of reform and regulation. At the same time, the highly-contagious Delta variant has found a foothold in formerly COVID-free New Zealand.
Jason Wong, senior market strategist at BNZ in Wellington said that the Reserve Bank was ready to pull the trigger, COVID comes along 24 hours earlier and so they’ve just pulled back on that. The risk-averse mood that had knocked sterling to a three-week low on the dollar persisted and held the British currency near that level at $1.3754. The Japanese yen eased on the dollar overnight, but rose against other currencies and touched a 5-1/2-month high of 128.21 per euro in the Asia session. The commodity-exposed Canadian dollar recovered slightly from an overnight one-month low.
The trade-exposed South Korean won bounced from an 11-month low it touched after a government official said that he was closely watching out for a possible overshoot in exchange-rate movements as foreigners sell stocks. And then the traders are looking to minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting for clues around the timing or speed of plans to taper asset purchases.