June 27, 2018 / 12:27 AM / 5 months ago

Dollar gains as U.S. backs softer restrictions on China investment

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar rallied against most currencies on Wednesday, including against traditional safe-havens like the Swiss franc and Japanese yen, after a moderation in the U.S. administration’s approach to Chinese investment.

A money changer counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Diyarbakir, Turkey May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar

The dollar was up 0.15 percent against the yen at 110.21 yen, and advanced 0.64 percent against the franc. The Japanese and Swiss units tend to benefit at the dollar’s expense in times of geopolitical and financial tensions.

“The yen was stronger prior to that modest softening in the stance there. After that news we saw a weakening in the yen,” said Eric Viloria, currency strategist at Wells Fargo Securities in New York.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will use a strengthened national security review process to thwart Chinese acquisitions of sensitive American technologies, a softer approach than imposing China-specific investment restrictions.

Investors’ risk appetite took a hit earlier this week following reports on Monday that the U.S. Treasury Department was drafting curbs that would block companies with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from buying U.S. tech firms.

“The fact that a key component of the president’s approach to dealing with U.S.-Chinese trade will go through an established, inter-agency committee should assuage worries about a ‘go it alone’ approach by Mr. Trump,” Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, said in a note.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, was up 0.65 percent at 95.274, on pace for its second day of gains.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue raising interest rates, after the European Central Bank delayed its planned rate increases have been a key driver for a two-month rally in the dollar.

Despite the slight easing in trade policy tensions, the Australian and New Zealand dollars, which are dependent on trade with China, remained under pressure. The kiwi was 0.98 percent lower against the greenback, while the Aussie slipped 0.55 percent.

“If you look at the broader trade policy backdrop it is still fluid and still uncertain,” said Viloria.

The offshore yuan fell to as low as 6.6195, its weakest since mid-December, after the People’s Bank of China lowered the currency’s midpoint to its weakest in six months for a sixth straight day..

Traders expect Beijing would let the yuan weaken further to soften the impact of tariffs imposed by the United States.

The euro was 0.76 percent lower at $1.1557, under pressure from worries about the trade conflict, the threat of a political crisis in Germany, and uncertainty over a European Union summit dealing with immigration.

Sterling weakened against the euro and the dollar as imminent Brexit talks and doubts the Bank of England will raise interest rates this year darkened the outlook for the currency.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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