Dollar inches up vs yen on hopes trade war can be averted, US job data awaited

The dollar inched up against the yen on Thursday as stocks bounced back from a sell-off triggered by an escalating U.S.-China trade dispute.

The greenback was 0.15 percent higher at 106.930 yen, having pulled higher from a low of 105.990 set the previous day.

The yen, often sought in times of market turmoil and political tensions, had rallied as Wall Street shares initially tumbled on Wednesday after China’s swift move to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

But a comeback by U.S. equities helped the dollar bounce, as trade war concerns calmed somewhat after President Donald Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration was in “negotiation” with China, and not engaged in a trade war.

The dollar extended gains as equities in the region followed Wall Street’s lead, with Japan’s Nikkei rising nearly 2 percent.

“It’s too early to say whether the markets have moved beyond trade conflict woes. The situation is still very fluid, and currencies, like dollar/yen, will remain hostage to each turn in equities,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

“The focus shifts to Friday’s U.S. jobs report for now, as steady economic fundamentals are about the only factor that can neutralize the negative effects stemming from political risks,” Ishikawa said.

Against the Swiss currency, another perceived safe haven along with the yen, the dollar was little changed at 0.9609 franc after rising 0.2 percent overnight.

“The U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports may not be activated until after June, suggesting that the sanctions could be weakened by negotiations that take place in the meantime,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

The euro nudged up 0.05 percent to $1.2284, adding to the previous day’s modest gains.

The common currency still remained within reach of a two-week low of $1.2254 plumbed on Tuesday after a survey showed the euro zone’s manufacturing boom stumbled for a third month in March as optimism waned and demand ebbed.
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was effectively flat at 90.123.

The Australian dollar initially extended the previous day’s surge, when it was lifted by better-than-expected domestic retail sales data, to reach a nine-day high of $0.7726 before losing steam. The Aussie was last down 0.2 percent at $0.7701. Source: Reuters