NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar fell to a five-week low against a basket of major currencies on Monday, as optimism that the United States and China are set to begin negotiations on trade helped ease fears of a trade war and investors’ appetite for risk improved.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.44 percent at 89.044, after slipping to a five-week low of 88.979.
“You are seeing fears of a trade war ebbing right now,” said Karl Schamotta, director of global product and market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.
Global markets were shaken last week after U.S. President Donald Trump moved to impose tariffs on Chinese goods, sparking fears of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, but latest reports indicated a slightly more selective stance.
China’s premier, Li Keqiang, said on Monday China and the United States should maintain negotiations and he reiterated pledges to ease access for American businesses.
Michael Diaz, head of FX for foreign exchange service XE, in Orange County, California, said futures traders were moving into riskier assets.
“That also means out of other safe haven currencies,” he said.
The yen, often viewed as a safe-haven currency in times of market turbulence and economic uncertainty, partly because of the resilience provided by Japan’s current account surplus, slipped against the greenback. The dollar was up 0.62 percent against the Japanese currency.
The dollar’s strength against the yen was also due to Japanese factors such as growing views that a political scandal in Tokyo could deepen, with a figure in a cronyism controversy surrounding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe due to testify in parliament on Tuesday.
The euro rose 0.56 percent against the Swiss franc. Against the greenback, the common currency was up 0.82 percent, with the latest comments from Jens Weidmann, Germany’s likely candidate to become the European Central Bank’s next president, also offering some support.
Weidmann said market expectations of a rate hike towards the middle of next year were “not completely unrealistic”, a view shared by the broader market, although some expect a rate hike by the first quarter of 2019.
“We should see the dollar remain a bit weak against the euro in the short term, just because of the economic outlook in Europe and the fact that they have really taken a more hawkish approach in pulling back from the quantitative easing that’s been going on for the past decade there,” XE’s Diaz said.
Traders in the currency market were also braced for a flood of Treasury issuance this week, which was causing some traders to take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach, Schamotta said.
“We are not really sure how much that will impact the market more generally,” he said.
The British pound < GBP=> rose 0.67 percent against the dollar as investors became more convinced that the Bank of England would raise interest rates in May.
Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama