Dollar fights back but traders on edge over Trump

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HONG KONG: The dollar recovered against its major peers Wednesday after taking a battering the previous day but equity traders were on edge on uncertainty about the prospects of a Donald Trump presidency.

The greenback plunged Tuesday following comments from Trump in an interview that it was too strong and that a weak Chinese yuan was “killing us,” fuelling concerns of a possible currency war.

The sell-off marked a sharp turnaround for the US unit, which has been surging since Trump’s November election on expectations his big-spending, tax-cutting plans will fan inflation and force a Federal Reserve rate hike.

“Traders recognize that and when you throw in levels that were overbought—in a US dollar sense—some sort of retracement was on the cards,” Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at FX and CFD provider AxiTrader, said in a note.


“Add in Trump’s recent rhetoric about the US dollar being too strong—he was talking in context of China in this sense but the message is a broad one—and you get a chance for further US dollar weakness.”

Trump’s comments come days before he takes the oath of office on Friday, with market-watchers hoping his speech will provide some detail on his plans for the US economy as well as his intentions on the global trade front.

On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned at the World Economic Forum in Davos against protectionism, alluding to Trump’s plans to tear up global trade deals, saying it was like “locking oneself in a dark room. Wind and rain may be kept outside, but so is light and air.”

‘Brexit vote positive’

In early trade Wednesday, the dollar was up on the yen, euro and pound but was struggling against higher-yielding units including South Korea’s won, the Australian dollar and Malaysian ringgit.

The pound was holding up as it witnesses a volatile week that saw it plunge to three-decade lows against the greenback on worries about Britain’s plans for a clean break from the European Union.

However, it bounced sharply Tuesday after British Prime Minister Theresa May set out her plan to leave the customs union and single market in a so-called “hard Brexit,” and promised to let Parliament vote on the deal.

“May’s announcement that both houses of Parliament will vote on the final Brexit deal is positive for the pound, as the process, at a minimum, should ensure that the most severe outcomes are avoided,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA.

Sterling shot up three percent to more than $1.24 following her remarks, having plunged below $1.20 Monday as news emerged of her plans.

“There is nothing like clarity to turn around a market. And that is exactly what…May sought to give UK citizens, traders, and markets in her speech,” said McKenna.

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