Riskier currencies maintain gains vs dollar on Biden election win

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar stabilised on Monday after tumbling to a 10-week low in the wake of Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president with euro/dollar – the most traded currency pair in the world – holding below $1.19 and the Japanese yen remaining close to an eight month high.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollars are counted out by a banker counting currency at a bank in Westminster, Colorado November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Scandinavian currencies and the Australian dollar – all very sensitive to international trade developments and investors’ risk appetite – were stronger.

The Chinese yuan was the biggest mover among major currencies, having struck a 28-month peak of 6.5501, and last trading up 0.6% at 6.5545.

The Norwegian crown was not far behind, rising by 0.5% against the dollar to 9.1135, after hitting a seven-week high of 9.1020. The Swedish crown was also up by 0.4% at 8.6160, after reaching a 10-week high of 8.6100 before.

“It’s classic risk preference, risk-on, higher asset prices across the board – stocks, commodities – and it’s going to the foreign exchange market,” said Neil Jones, European head of hedge fund sales at Mizuho.

“The U.S. dollar, as one would expect, is a safe-haven currency and still the world leader in terms of outperformance in times of risk aversion and so one would expect it to be on the backfoot in times of risk preference,” Jones said.

The market may be a little reluctant to take euro higher, he added.

The Aussie dollar rose 0.4% at 0.7286 versus its U.S. counterpart, having hit earlier 0.7301, its highest since Sept. 21.

The euro was last trading at $1.1884, flat on the day, after rising to a two-month high of $1.1899 in the Asian session.

German exports rose by more than expected in September, and foreign trade gave Europe’s largest economy a boost going into the fourth quarter as it struggles to avoid slipping into a double dip contraction.

The U.S. dollar hit earlier a 10-week low as investors heralded Biden’s election win by buying trade-exposed currencies on expectations that a calmer White House could boost world commerce and that monetary policy will remain easy.

Biden crossed the threshold of the 270 electoral college votes required for victory on Saturday by winning the battleground state of Pennsylvania. Republicans appear to have retained control of the Senate, though the final makeup may not be clear until runoff votes in Georgia in January.

The U.S. dollar changed hands at 103.5 Japanese yen, up 0.2% on the day, although the yen was close to its strongest since March.

The U.S. dollar index – which compares the greenback against a basket of currencies – was steady at 92.21, after dropping to a 10-week low of 92.12. Sterling hit its highest in more than two months.

“The (U.S. election) outcome is ideal from a market point of view,” said CMC Markets’ chief strategist in Sydney, Michael McCarthy.

“Neither party controls the Congress, so both trade wars and higher taxes are largely off the agenda.”

The prospect of more gridlock also means that expectations for a massive U.S. fiscal stimulus package have been lowered, which has sent bond yields down in anticipation of less borrowing and more quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve.

Selling of the U.S. dollar was held in check by underlying virus worries and because Donald Trump, the first incumbent to lose a re-election bid in 28 years, has made no sign of conceding while fighting legal battles to overturn the result.

Traders are also wary of fresh lockdowns as coronavirus cases surge, with the global tally of infections topping 50 million on Sunday as cases in the United States surpassed 10 million.

Europe’s fiscal and monetary responses to a second wave of coronavirus infections, which have already prompted new restrictions on everyday life, will be in focus when European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde speaks on Thursday.

(This story corrects bullet point and third paragraph to show yuan was biggest mover among major currencies)

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