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Black Monday: Coronavirus wreaks havoc in forex markets

David Hobart

The foreign exchange markets were not exempted from the coronavirus’ trail of economic destruction on Monday morning – with the dollar and commodity-focused currencies seeing significant drops.

The coronavirus has wreaked true havoc on all sorts of markets, with many traders and investors fearful of the risk of long-term, persistent problems.

There are now more than 107,000 people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus across the world.

One of the main economic effects has been a big drop in the price of oil, with Saudi Arabia pledging to reduce its prices and raise the amount it produces after a supply deal formed by international organisation OPEC came to an end.

Overall, the price of oil was down by 30% – which had several knock-on effects.

One was that traders decided to shift their focus to bonds, which are perceived to be much safer in a situation like this.

US yields for 10-year bonds fell to less than 0.5%, which meant that one of the key reasons why traders might choose the dollar for investment purposes was no longer present.

This caused the US dollar to see a phenomenal drop of 3% in its pair against the Japanese yen, where it was seen at 101.58.

This was its worst performance in three years.

The US dollar index, which is a tool designed to track the performance of the greenback compared to several other major global currencies across the world, was down to its worst point in 17 months on Monday morning.

The yen has been performing well recently and has risen by almost 10 whole percentage points in the space of just a couple of weeks.

However, there are some concerns domestically in Japan about this – with suggestions that exporters might suffer as a result of the rise in the currency’s value.

The oil price issue also caused those currencies which are exposed to the global commodities markets to see a big drop in value.

Both of the Antipodean currencies, which are the Australian dollar and the New Zealand dollar, were down – each seeing a drop of close to 2% against the US dollar.

In its pair against the Japanese yen, the Australian dollar was down by 6%.

The drop for the New Zealand dollar was over 7%.

Elsewhere, the single European currency saw a great rise in value.

It was spotted up by 1% in its pair against the greenback and was at $1.1408 overall.

The economic calendar does not appear to be crammed on Monday, although attention will no doubt be consumed by the coronavirus.

Tuesday, however, will see some key events.

One of these will be the Chinese consumer price index for February, which will be out at 1:30am GMT.

This looks set to show a change from 1.4% to 0.8% on a month on month basis.

Year on year, however, the drop looks set to be from 5.4% to 4.9% – perhaps as a direct result of the coronavirus.

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David Hobart
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