Yen rises on back of political worries in Europe and US

Reuters, NEW YORK

Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - Page 14

The yen on Friday rose against major currencies as concerns about the upcoming French elections and the lack of movement in fiscal changes in the US kindled safe-haven demand for the Japanese currency.

The US dollar gained against most peers with the exception of the yen, chalking up a second week of gains following a mildly hawkish view from US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and surprising strong US data on retail sales and consumer prices.

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of trade-weighted peers, rose 0.44 percent to 100.89, reversing Thursday’s 0.7 percent drop that was its steepest one-day loss in more than two weeks. The index eked out a weekly gain of 0.1 percent.

“We are trading in this political policy vacuum,” Mazen Issa, senior FX strategist at TD Securities in New York, said of the US dollar. “We are going to see things whipsaw around.”

In Taipei, the New Taiwan dollar on Saturday fell against the greenback, losing NT$0.020 to close at NT$30.796 after moving in a quiet session on reduced turnover, dealers said.

The NT dollar rose 0.8 percent against the US dollar from last Friday’s NT$31.051.

Weaker stock prices around the world, together with a three-day US holiday weekend, further fed appetite for the yen.

The yen on Friday rose 0.3 percent against the US dollar to ¥112.87 and gained 0.9 percent against the euro to ¥119.78.

News that the French left could unite behind one candidate in presidential elections, possibly knocking centrist and right-leaning nominees out of the race in the first round, raised a new scenario for a second-round runoff.

The euro fell 0.6 percent against the US dollar at US$1.0612, holding above a five-week low of US$1.0520 struck on Wednesday and gaining 0.3 against the greenback for the week.

Sterling on Friday sank to a 10-day low against the euro after a surprise third monthly fall running in British retail sales pointed to weakening consumer sentiment.

The British pound lost about 0.5 percent against the common currency at £0.86 per euro.

It fell to a one-week low of US$1.2388, down almost 1 percent on the day, before recovering to US$1.2418 in the afternoon. The pound is down 0.4 percent against the greenback from last week’s US$1.2463.

Additional reporting by CNA