April 10, 2020 at 12:02 JST
A department store notice explains the store is closed temporarily, on April 9 in Tokyo. (AP Photo)
The dollar started Friday’s trade on a shaky footing and was on course for a weekly loss as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s massive new lending program for small companies and signs of a slowdown in coronavirus infections reduced safe-haven demand.
The pound pulled ahead against the dollar and the euro as markets breathed a sigh of relief after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson left intensive care following his hospitalization for COVID-19 symptoms.
Currencies from oil-producing countries also held onto gains against the U.S. currency, but the outlook remains uncertain as an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut oil supply has failed to allay concern about massive oversupply.
Risk sentiment has steadily improved this week on tentative signs that the pandemic is slowing in U.S. and European hotspots, but some analysts remain cautious given that so little is known about the virus and as many nations continue to grapple with the massive economic damage caused by the outbreak.
“The Fed has taken a lot of different measures, but the end result is a large increase in the supply of dollars,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.
“Positive news about the virus reduces the kind of panicked repatriation into dollars that we saw earlier this year. The end result is gradual dollar weakness.”
Against the euro, the dollar last stood at $1.0930, on course for 1.2 percent weekly decline.
The dollar traded at 0.9660 Swiss franc, down 1 percent for the week.
Trading is likely to be subdued on the day as financial markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, and the United States are closed for the Good Friday holiday.
The Fed on Thursday announced a $2.3 trillion program to offer loans to local governments and small and midsize businesses, the latest step to backstop the U.S. economy as the country battles the coronavirus crisis.
The Fed has also slashed interest rates to zero, restated quantitative easing, and increased dollar liquidity to combat a shortage in money markets, leaving the dollar in the grip of bears in the spot market. New York, the U.S. state most afflicted by the coronavirus, offered fresh evidence that the arc of the disease caused by the virus was flattening.
The greenback last traded at 108.51 yen, unchanged for the week as concern about an increase in coronavirus infections and the declaration of a state of emergency in Japan offset dollar selling.
The coronavirus first emerged in China late last year and has since spread around the world, infecting more than 1.5 million and claiming more than 89,400 lives.
The Australian dollar, which is highly sensitive to risk sentiment because of Australia’s dependence on China and the global commodities trade, jumped by 5.5 percent against the greenback this week, highlighting easing stress in global markets.
The pound held steady at $1.2465 on Friday and headed for a 1.6 percent gain this week. Against the euro, sterling was on course for its third consecutive weekly gain.
The British prime minister on Sunday became the first world leader to be admitted to hospital for persistent symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
This initially raised concerns about a leadership vacuum, but Johnson’s condition has gradually improved.
The Canadian dollar, the Norwegian crown and the Russian ruble were all higher against the dollar for the week, but further gains are in doubt.
Investors reacted negatively to the emerging supply-cut agreement between members of OPEC and its allies by selling crude futures, suggesting these cuts may not be enough to offset an expected drop in global demand.
This special page portrays the dramatic arrest of Carlos Ghosn and the twists and turns that followed.
This special page reviews what the former Nissan Motor Co. chairman left during his 19 years in Japan.
Baseball star Ichiro Suzuki had much to say on March 21, the day he hung up his spikes.
This special page details how journalists uncovered shady transactions through Bermuda and other tax havens.
Here are reports about efforts in Japan and abroad to achieve the U.N. sustainable development goals.