By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar firmed across the board on Tuesday, garnering safe-haven bids, after a disappointing set of Chinese trade figures hurt the yuan and the Australian and New Zealand currencies, with European risk-sensitive currencies also sliding on the worsening global outlook.
The dollar index rose 0.4% to 102.52, moving further away from Friday’s one-week low in the wake of a mixed U.S. jobs report, which pointed to a cooling but still resilient labor market.
China’s imports and exports fell much faster than expected in July, data on Tuesday showed, with imports down 12.4% from a year earlier while exports contracted by 14.5%, in another sign of the country’s faltering economic recovery and subdued global demand.
On top of that Moody’s late on Monday cut credit ratings of several small to mid-sized U.S. banks and said it may downgrade some of the nation’s biggest lenders. It warned that the sector’s credit strength will likely be tested by funding risks and weaker profitability.
“Weak Chinese and Japanese data along with the Moody’s downgrade of U.S. banks all weighed on risk sentiment,” said Marc Chandler, chief global strategist at Bannockburn Forex in New York.
“In the FX market right now, the way it has expressed concern about the growth outlook is that the dollar-bloc (Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian dollars) and Scandies (Norway and Swedish crowns) are underperforming against the U.S. dollar.”
The offshore yuan fell to a five-week low of 7.2514 per dollar, and was last down 0.5% at 7.235. Its onshore counterpart hit a three-week low of 7.2225 per dollar.
The Aussie, a proxy for risk-sensitive currencies that is directly impacted by the yuan, weakened to US$0.6497 against the U.S. currency, its lowest since June 1. It last traded down 0.5% at US$0.6539. The New Zealand dollar dropped to US$0.6035, its weakest level in two months and was last down 0.7% at US$0.6063.
While currency moves had been minimal early in the Asian day, the greenback extended its gains in Europe and North America, as risk sentiment turned fragile and Wall Street shares sold off.
In other currencies, sterling fell 0.3% to $1.2745, after a survey showed British retailers in July logged their slowest sales growth in 11 months.
The euro dropped 0.4% to $1.0957, while the risk-sensitive Swedish and Norwegian crowns both tumbled against the dollar.
The U.S. dollar rose 0.7% to 143.40 yen.
“We’re definitely at a place in the dollar smile where U.S. fundamentals are outperforming the rest of the world. And generally it’s an environment for the dollar to sustain its rally,” said Brad Bechtel, global head of foreign exchange at Jefferies in New York.
Data on Tuesday showed that Japanese real wages fell for a 15th straight month in June on relentless price hikes, but nominal pay growth remained robust amid rising salaries for high-income workers and a broadening labor crunch.
All eyes are now on Thursday’s U.S. inflation data, where expectations are for core consumer prices in the United States to have risen 4.8% on an annual basis in July.
China will report July inflation as well on Wednesday, with traders on the lookout for further signs of deflation.
Currency bid prices at 3:41PM (1941 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Dollar index 102.5200 102.0800 +0.44% -0.937% +102.8000 +102.0700
Euro/Dollar $1.0958 $1.1003 -0.41% +2.27% +$1.1012 +$1.0930
Dollar/Yen 143.4000 142.4600 +0.66% +9.37% +143.4900 +142.4200
Euro/Yen 157.14 156.75 +0.25% +12.00% +157.7400 +156.3600
Dollar/Swiss 0.8755 0.8729 +0.32% -5.30% +0.8782 +0.8721
Sterling/Dollar $1.2745 $1.2785 -0.31% +5.39% +$1.2785 +$1.2685
Dollar/Canadian 1.3417 1.3370 +0.36% -0.97% +1.3502 +1.3369
Aussie/Dollar $0.6539 $0.6574 -0.53% -4.07% +$0.6576 +$0.6497
Euro/Swiss 0.9592 0.9603 -0.11% -3.06% +0.9609 +0.9586
Euro/Sterling 0.8596 0.8602 -0.07% -2.80% +0.8625 +0.8596
NZ $0.6063 $0.6107 -0.70% -4.50% +$0.6110 +$0.6035
Dollar/Norway 10.2620 10.1520 +1.25% +4.74% +10.3410 +10.1670
Euro/Norway 11.2469 11.1631 +0.75% +7.18% +11.3165 +11.1588
Dollar/Sweden 10.7013 10.5738 +0.77% +2.82% +10.7535 +10.5753
Euro/Sweden 11.7274 11.6382 +0.77% +5.18% +11.7637 +11.6350
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Additional reporting by Samuel Indyk in London and Rae Wee in Singapore; Editing by Gareth Jones, Jason Neel, Sharon Singleton and Andrea Ricci)