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Dollar holding its own as surging covid cases and stimulus issues worry traders

October 26, 2020

dollar

The dollar held its own on Monday, as rising coronavirus cases across Europe and the United States combined with a lack of progress toward a U.S. stimulus package put traders in a cautious mood, although hopes for a Brexit trade deal held sterling steady.

The dollar trod water in the Asia session, after having fallen broadly last week. Against the risk-sensitive Australian dollar and against the euro it gained about 0.2%. Sterling, however, held firm at $1.3024.

The U.S recorded its highest ever number of new COVID-19 cases for two consecutive days along with France, while Spain announced a new state of emergency and Italy has ordered restaurants and bars to shut by 6 p.m.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that she expected a White House response on Monday regarding the latest stimulus spending plan, but there have been few tangible signs that a long-stalled deal is actually nearer, although it seems a half percent dip in S&P 500 futures has spilled over into currency markets, where traders are also feeling wary ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 3.

The Japanese yen slipped a fraction on the firmer dollar to 104.85 per dollar and other Asian currencies also traded a touch lower.

Hopes for a breakthrough in the trade-deal stalemate between Britain and Europe held the pound steady above $1.30, while over the weekend, Britain’s Northern Ireland minister said there was a good chance of a trade deal.

The week ahead holds three major central bank meetings and the final sprint to the polls in the United States.

The Bank of Canada and Bank of Japan are expected to hold fire for now, while the market assumes the European Central Bank will sound cautious on inflation and growth, even if it skips a further easing on Thursday.

It is widely speculated that a Joe Biden victory next week, especially if the Democrats win control of the Senate, would likely herald a large U.S. stimulus package. But investors are treading carefully.

Elsewhere, China’s top leaders chart the country’s economic course for 2021-2025 at a key meeting starting on Monday and may adopt a lower or more flexible growth target.

The yuan, which has soared more than 7% since May as China has led the world’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, edged lower with the broader mood to 6.6852 per dollar.