Bullish Investors Lift Risk-Sensitive Currencies as Omicron Fears Fade

By Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
December 23, 2021 Updated: December 23, 2021

LONDON—Bullish investors left the dollar near a one-week low and lifted riskier currencies such as the Australian dollar and British pound on Thursday, as fears about the fallout from Omicron were sidelined.

The euro slipped by 0910 GMT but held above $1.13 while the dollar index, at 96.159, was unchanged on the day but near its weakest since last Friday.

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar rose 0.3 percent to$0.7238 after Wednesday’s 0.86 percent surge.

Sterling gained 0.2 percent to $1.3385 after a 0.63 percent rally.

“AUD is as usual the flag-bearer for bullish sentiment about the world economy,” said Marshall Gittler, Head of Investment Research at BDSwiss Holding.

Risk appetite has improved since Monday, when markets were rattled by government restrictions relating to the spread of Omicron.

However, data on Wednesday showed U.S. consumer confidence improving more than expected in December, suggesting the economy would continue to expand in 2022 despite a resurgence in COVID-19 infections and reduced stimulus spending.

There was also encouraging news from a South African study, which suggested reduced risks of hospitalization and severe disease in people infected with Omicron compared with the Delta strain.

The dollar rose against the Japanese yen—another safe-haven currency—and was up 0.2 percent at 114.3, near a one-month high from Wednesday at 114.37.

While the dollar has lost out to other currencies amid the rebound in investor risk sentiment this week, most analysts expect it to strengthen in the weeks ahead as the Federal Reserve begins to tighten monetary policy faster than other central banks.

“While the recent improvement in risk sentiment on the back of reduced Omicron fears is currently weighing on the U.S. dollar, we expect the correction lower to prove shortlived,” Lee Hardman, a currencies analyst at MUFG, said.

“Hawkish comments from Fed officials over the past week including from Fed Governor Waller and San Francisco Fed President Daly have signalled that they are considering raising rates as soon as the March FOMC meeting,” he added.

Elsewhere the Turkish lira extended its startling rebound this week and was last up another 3 percent at 11.6 lira per dollar, having traded as weak as 18.4 on Monday.

The big gains follow weeks of heavy losses and came after President Tayyip Erdogan said the government and central bank would guarantee some local currency deposits against FX depreciation losses.

Reuters