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Dollar resumes climb as investors bid for safety

The dollar resumed its climb versus major currencies on Friday as investors once again made safety bids, amid worsening economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The greenback index is on course for a near 2.5% gain over the week, after it whipsawed last month from highs on a scramble for cash, before slumping as the U.S. Federal Reserve flooded the market with liquidity.

The dollar index rose 0.6% to 100.75 on Friday. 

Indecision among euro zone governments about a rescue package for economies hit by the outbreak has weakened the euro in recent days, helping the dollar to its best day in two weeks against the single currency on Thursday.

Analysts said the euro may also be faltering due to rebalancing by forex reserve managers stocking up on dollars.

The dollar was up up 0.5% against the euro on Friday at $1.0799, putting it on course for a 3% gain over the week. It was was also up 0.5% against a basket of currencies.

As lockdowns continue, the economic impact of the epidemic is becoming more marked, with purchasing managers’ indexes across the euro zone and Britain on Friday showing a slump in business activity.

The coronavirus is worsening in the United States where weekly jobless claims doubled to 6.6 million last week. U.S. payroll figures are due on Friday, although the cut-off period for the survey is March 12 so it will not reflect the impact of COVID-19. 

“These global recession fears are terrifying the markets – presumably without much differentiation between the countries. Which is why the dollar is standing up rather well and might be able to appreciate a little bit more,” said analysts at Commerzbank in a note.

Brief gains on Thursday in oil-exposed currencies such as the Norwegian crown and Canadian dollar on the back of a rallying oil price mostly evaporated with some retracement of oil’s gains amid doubts around supply cuts.

The Japanese yen, Swiss franc, sterling and the Australian and New Zealand dollars all also lost ground as the dollar strengthened across the board.

“Rising jobless numbers suggest that productive capacity is being eroded,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors in London. “So when self-isolation measures are eventually lifted, economic activity will take that much longer to get back on its feet. The chances of a V-shaped economic recovery are fading.”

Source: CNBC/Reuters

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