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FOREX-Safe-haven currencies supported on signs on weakening economic sentiment

·2 min read

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Safe-haven currencies such as the yen held firm against riskier currencies on Tuesday as disappointing economic data from China, the spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus and political tension in Afghanistan weighed on risk appetite.

The dollar eased to 109.24 yen, having lost about 1% over the past two sessions while the euro slipped to as low as 128.50 yen, touching its lowest level since late March.

The Swiss franc also held on to latest gains at 0.9124 franc per dollar. On the euro, it stood at 1.0745 franc to the euro, staying near its nine-month high of 1.0720 set earlier this month

The U.S. dollar, which is also often seen as the ultimate safe-haven currency, held firm against many other rivals, including the euro and commodity-linked currencies.

The euro changed hands at $1.1785.

"The moves seem to reflect a deteriorating in market sentiment. You could say the impact of Delta variant is behind this," said Yukio Ishizuki, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

The New York Federal Reserve said on Monday its barometer of manufacturing business activity in New York State declined more than expected in August after growing at a record-setting pace in the month before.

That came after the University of Michigan's survey on Friday showing U.S. consumer sentiment dropped sharply in early August to its lowest level in a decade.

In China, data published on Monday showed July retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment were all weaker than expected as the latest COVID-19 outbreak weighed on the world's second-biggest economy.

Investors' risk mood was also curtailed by developments in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized the capital, though direct impacts on markets have been limited so far, traders said.

Data on U.S. retail sales and industrial output due later on Tuesday is the next biggest focus for the market.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will be speaking on Tuesday to educators, though, given the audience, many analysts expect him to stay away from monetary policy, opting to speak on the issue next week at a central bank symposium in Jackson Hole.

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar stood at $0.7333 , near the low end of its narrow trading range around $0.73-74.

The immediate focus is on the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy meeting minutes due later on Tuesday.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin trading at $46,133, not far from Saturday's three-month high of $48,190. Ether stood at $3,190.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano. Editing by Gerry Doyle)