Dollar gains for second day; U.S. non-farm payrolls loom

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar rose against a basket of currencies for a second straight day on Thursday as investors, worried about the prospect of a global recession, continued to take shelter in the greenback.

“With the increase in the coronavirus impact around the world, investors are looking at the dollar as a safe haven,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank in St. Louis, Missouri.

U.S. jobless claims in the latest week soared to a record level, yet the dollar’s reaction was tepid at most.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 6.65 million in the latest week from an unrevised 3.3 million the previous week. The figure far exceeded the median estimate of 3.50 million in a Reuters survey of economists.

Investors are now looking to Friday’s U.S. non-farm payrolls report for March. Economists are forecasting U.S. job losses of 100,000 for last month, a sharp reversal from job gains of 273,000 in February, according to a Reuters poll. That would be the first decline in jobs since September 2010.

“Of course, the drop in payrolls will be far worse in April, almost surely exceeding the largest monthly loss recorded during the financial crisis, which was 800,000 in March 2009,” Natwest Markets said in a research note.

Markets have been alarmed since President Donald Trump’s warning on Tuesday of a painful two weeks ahead in fighting the coronavirus, even with strict social distancing measures.

The United States has over 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases – the most worldwide – which has sent investors flocking to safe-haven assets. Globally, coronavirus cases topped 1 million on Thursday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Some analysts do not expect the dollar to extend its recent rally after the Federal Reserve took a series of measures, which have begun to have an impact, to ensure an adequate global supply of the currency.

The cost of raising U.S. dollar funds in the yen and euro swaps market stabilized on Thursday, with premiums favoring the other currencies, suggesting that greenback demand had receded from earlier in the coronavirus pandemic .

In late afternoon trading, the dollar index was up 0.7% at 100.17 <=USD>.

Against the yen, the dollar rose 0.7% at 107.91 yen .

The euro extended its decline, falling more than 1% to $1.0847, after hitting a one-week low .

The Fed’s efforts to improve dollar liquidity have boosted other currencies such as the Norwegian crown, which advanced further on Thursday, to a three-week high of 11.1820 against the euro. It was last trading up 2% at 11.24 .


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