FOREX-Dollar steady, yen falls as banking fears ease
By Ankur Banerjee and Samuel Indyk
SINGAPORE/LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - The dollar was steady on Monday, while the yen slipped from its seven-week peak, as investors assessed moves made by authorities and regulators to rein in worries over the global banking system.
The dollar index, which measures the currency against six rivals, rose 0.1% at 103.09, having gained 0.5% on Friday amid worries in the European banking sector.
Global banking stocks have been battered this month following the sudden collapse of two U.S. lenders and the rescue of Credit Suisse, with authorities stepping in to ease investor nerves.
On Monday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said First Citizens BancShares Inc would acquire all of Silicon Valley Bank's deposits and loans from the regulator.
This helped ease some fears of contagion in Europe with an index of European banking shares up up 1.5%, led by Deutsche Bank which jumped 4.3% after an 8.5% slide on Friday.
Risk-averse investors had sent the yen to a seven-week high of 129.65 per dollar on Friday and the currency was on track to clock a near 4% gain in March. It was last down around 0.6% at 131.50 per dollar.
"Traders are being careful, not knowing if there will be any new negative news from the European financial sector or from the U.S.," said Niels Christensen, chief analyst at Nordea.
"They got a big scare in the last fortnight but if the stress disappears slowly, markets will be more focused on central bank expectations going forwards," he said.
The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates by 25 basis points, as expected, but took a cautious stance on the outlook because of the banking sector turmoil. However, Fed Chair Jerome Powell kept the door open for further rate rises if necessary.
Markets are pricing in around a 55% chance of the Fed standing pat on interest rates in its next meeting in May and anticipate a rate cut as early as July.
Meanwhile, markets are still pricing in over 40 basis points worth of tightening from the European Central Bank by the summer, and no rate cuts by the end of the year.
"Market pricing is more hawkish for the ECB than the Fed, so on that front the dollar is a little bit vulnerable," Nordea's Christensen said.
Data on Monday showed German business morale unexpectedly improved in March despite the banking sector turmoil.
The euro was up 0.1% to $1.0772, after falling 0.6% on Friday, with key inflation data due at the end of the week.
Sterling was at $1.2270, up 0.3% on the day, having slid 0.5% on Friday.
Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari said on Sunday the recent stress in the banking sector and the possibility of a follow-on credit crunch had brought the U.S. closer to recession.
"What's unclear for us is how much of these banking stresses are leading to a widespread credit crunch. That credit crunch ... would then slow down the economy," Kashkari said in comments to CBS show Face the Nation. "This is something we are monitoring very, very closely."
The Australian dollar was little changed at $0.6643 and the New Zealand dollar NZD=D3> fell 0.3% at $0.6183.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin last fell 0.2% to $27,945. Ether was down 0.5% to $1,767.
(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Singapore and Samuel Indyk in London, Editing by Gerry Doyle, Ed Osmond and Sharon Singleton)