Reassuring Omicron news lifts bond yields, dollar vs safe havens

The dollar had tumbled as much as 0.4% against the Japanese currency

  

The dollar rose on Monday against safe-haven currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc after some reassuring news on the Omicron COVID variant, while units like the Australian dollar that have been battered by growth worries also caught a bid.

U.S. Treasury yields rose and stocks gained after news that initial observations suggested Omicron patients had only mild symptoms, reversing some of Friday's heavy selloff

Friday had taken 10-year Treasury yields below 1.4% for the first time since late September and boosted the safe-haven yen and Swiss franc. The dollar had tumbled as much as 0.4% against the Japanese currency.

Friday's greenback losses had also followed a below-forecast jobs report, though the data did little to shake market expectations the Federal Reserve will accelerate the pace of unwinding stimulus and raise interest rates, starting next year.

By 1100 GMT, the dollar  was flat against a basket of currencies around 96.19 but within range of November's 16-month peak of 96.938. It was 0.4% higher against the yen at 113.35 yen and rebounded by a similar amount against the franc  .

"The dollar is capitalising on the narrative of the Fed sticking to its plans for quicker tapering, which is what we had last week from (Fed Chair Jerome) Powell," said ING Bank FX strategist Francesco Pesole.

Dollar long positions climbed for a second straight week to the highest since June 2019, data from the U.S. CFTC showed on Friday, while bearish euro positions rose to stand at the highest since March 2020.

The euro slipped marginally to the dollar to around $1.130  .

Pesole said a further build-up of dollar longs was likely, given diverging policy expectations, especially against the euro.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar AUD=D3 rose as much as 0.5% to $0.704, scraping itself off 13-month low. The Norwegian crown which also plumbed 13-month lows on Friday, strengthened 0.3%  .

Such currencies were also supported by a slight re-steepening of the Treasury yield curve, where the gap between two and 10-year yields touched the narrowest in a year on Friday .

Analysts reckon the curve will flatten further, however, especially if inflation data due later in the week reinforces policy tightening expectations from the Fed. That could again hit the Australian and Norwegian currencies, Pesole said.

"If you look at the shape of the yield curve, the flattening of the 2-10 (year) segment normally brings some underperformance in commodity currencies," he added.

Elsewhere, cryptocurrencies nursed big losses from a wild weekend that at one stage crushed bitcoin BTC=BTSP more than 20%. Bitcoin slipped 4% to around $45,500 on Monday .

(Reporting by Sujata Rao and Tom Westbrook; Editing by Catherine Evans)


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