Dollar rebounds as banking fears fade; yen falls on quarter-end flows

Updated: Mar 29, 2023, 19:31 GMT+00:00

By Kevin Buckland TOKYO (Reuters) - The safe-haven U.S. dollar remained on the back foot on Wednesday following two days of losses as global financial markets regained a measure of stability on hopes a full-blown banking crisis can be averted.

Illustration shows U.S. Dollar banknotes

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar rose against most major peers on Wednesday, reversing some of its recent declines, and gained sharply against the yen, which was volatile as the end of the Japanese fiscal year approaches.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against six rivals, was 0.18% higher on the day at 102.67, pulling away from the near seven-week low of 101.91 touched late last week.

“The recent failures in the financial sector of the U.S. appear to be contained and the immediate bleeding has stopped,” Helen Given, FX trader at Monex USA, said.

Improving risk sentiment and investor hopes that central banks can once again turn their attention toward fighting inflation was helping support the dollar, Given said.

“Though we see some downside for USD in the second half of the year, dollar strength looks likely to continue on its current path for now,” she said.

Global financial markets were roiled in recent weeks as investors balked at the collapse of two U.S. lenders and the rescue of Credit Suisse, with the dollar coming under pressure as worries grew that the market turmoil may leave the Federal Reserve unable to persist with its inflation-fighting interest rate hikes.

Worries, however, have faded this week as investors took solace from First Citizens BancShares’ agreement to buy all of failed lender Silicon Valley Bank’s deposits and loans, and the fact that no further cracks have emerged in global banking in recent sessions.

On Tuesday, Michael Barr, the Fed’s vice chairman for supervision, told the Senate Banking Committee that Silicon Valley Bank’s problems were due to “terrible” risk management, suggesting it could be an isolated case.

“Vice Chair Barr’s testimony to Congress yesterday helped provide USD with a little life raft, easing fears that the Fed may not be able to contain the damage of the last few weeks,” Given said.

The dollar rose to a one-week high against the yen, which remained volatile in the run-up to the end of the Japanese fiscal year on Friday.

“A decent amount of USD/JPY flow today is end of quarter related,” Monex USA’s Given said.

“Traders are concerned with real money outcomes at the moment, but as global risk sentiment continues to improve, JPY as a traditional haven looks less appealing,” she said.

The dollar was 1.37% higher at 132.71 yen.

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar slipped 0.48% to $0.6677 after a reading of Australian consumer inflation slowed to an eight-month low, adding to the case for the Reserve Bank to pause its rate hiking campaign next week.

The Canadian dollar was 0.2% higher against its U.S. counterpart, on pace for its third straight session of gains, after Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Toni Gravelle said the bank is ready to step in with support if the banking system comes under severe strain, but now it is not even close to being worried about the health of the financial system.

Bitcoin rose 3.88% to $28,329, finding its feet having slid following the problems at the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, which has been sued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed in New York, additional reporting by Alun John in London, Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Christina Fincher and Jonathan Oatis)

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