By Stanley White
BUTOKYO (Reuters) – The Australian and New Zealand dollars fell against their U.S. counterpart on Monday after fears of a second wave of the coronavirus in Beijing prompted investors to sell currencies sensitive to risk.
The also dipped in offshore trade after Beijing recorded dozens of new cases of the novel coronavirus in recent days, all linked to a major wholesale food market.
The British pound declined against the greenback due to concerns trade negotiations between Britain and the European Union are not making enough progress.
Traders are also monitoring a spike in coronavirus cases in the United States, which raises concern that another outbreak could once again slow the global economy.
“There’s talk that hedge funds and other short-term speculators came into the market early to sell the Australian dollar because of the new infections in Beijing,” said Yukio Ishizuki, foreign exchange strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.
“Hopefully this will not be a big outbreak, and this downward move will not last long.”
The Australian dollar
Both currencies are traded as liquid proxies for risk sentiment because of their close ties to China’s economy and global commodities.
Beijing is ramping up testing after a cluster of new coronavirus cases was confirmed at Xinfadi, which is said to be the largest food market in Asia.
China’s capital had gone for almost two months with very few infections until a new case was reported on June 12, and since then the total number has climbed to 51.
Several U.S. states have also reported a record increase in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations as officials pushed ahead with plans to reopen their economies, according to a Reuters tally.
The global economy has only just regained its footing after the pandemic slammed the breaks on business activity earlier this year.
Another large outbreak could roil financial markets, which had been rallying recently on hopes for economic recovery.
In the offshore market, the yuan
The yuan’s losses could be limited if data on Chinese industrial production and retail sales due later on Monday confirm growth is picking up.
The British pound fell early in Asia after a report that British officials told their EU counterparts they will not extend the deadline for trade talks beyond the end of this year.
Britain left the EU in January. Their relationship is now governed by a transition arrangement that keeps previous rules in place while they negotiate new terms.
Some investors worry Britain’s economy could be thrown into chaos if it does not agree new terms with the EU.
Sterling also faces a test this week as the Bank of England holds a policy meeting on Thursday.
The BOE is expected to increase its quantitative easing programme by 100 billion pounds ($125 billion), with some analysts eyeing an even larger increase amid concerns about future growth.
The dollar was little changed at 107.46 yen
No major changes are expected, but some investors may be interested in Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s views on growing interest in its yield curve control policy.
U.S. central bankers discussed the option of adopting yield curve controls to cap bond yields, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last week.
($1 = 0.7994 pounds)