Aussie, rand flounder as Omicron spooks investors
The safe-haven yen hovered near a seven-week high on Thursday while the rand and riskier currencies languished as the Omicron coronavirus variant established itself as the dominant strain in South Africa and continued to spread globally.Early indications suggesting Omicron may be markedly more contagious
The safe-haven yen hovered near a seven-week high on Thursday while the rand and riskier currencies languished as the Omicron coronavirus variant established itself as the dominant strain in South Africa and continued to spread globally.Early indications suggesting Omicron may be markedly more contagious than previous variants have rattled financial markets on worries that a return to travel bans and lockdowns could choke off the nascent global recovery.
The strain has been found in places as widespread as Australia, Britain, Canada and Japan, even as those countries rapidly tighten their borders.Against Japan's currency, the U.S. dollar edged 0.11per cent higher to 112.875 yen, but remained close to Tuesday's low of 112.535, a level not seen since Oct. 11.
Against the South African rand, the greenback was off 0.12per cent at 16.0025, after a more than 1per cent surge overnight.The number of new cases reported in South Africa - where Omicron was first discovered four weeks ago - doubled from Tuesday to Wednesday. The country's National Institute for Communicable Diseases said 74per cent of all the virus genomes it had sequenced last month had been of the new variant. headtopics.com
The first case in the United States, reported on Wednesday, was a fully vaccinated person in California who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22 and tested positive seven days later.Despite the uncertainty spawned by Omicron, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated in Day 2 of testimony to Congress on Wednesday that he and fellow policymakers will consider at their Dec. 14-15 meeting a faster taper of stimulus, which could open the door to earlier interest rates hikes.
"If nothing else, (Powell's repeat testimony) tells you he is not in the least unhappy about how markets have interpreted what he said earlier," Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note to clients."The truth is we are less than a week into the 2-3 week timeframe that anyone worth listening to - epidemiologists, not market analysts - say is necessary before an informed judgement can be made with respect both to the seriousness of this COVID-19 variant and the efficacy of existing vaccines."
The dollar index, which measures the currency versus six peers, edged 0.03per cent higher to 96.07, consolidating in the middle of its range over the past two weeks, when it also rose as high as 96.938 for the first time since July of last year.The risk-sensitive Aussie was about flat at US$0.7105, not far from Tuesday's low of US$0.7063, its weakest since early November of last year.
Sterling, often considered a risk-on currency, was little changed at US$1.3276. It plunged to a near one-year low of US$1.31945 on Tuesday.The euro was steady at US$1.1316, continuing its recovery after dipping to a near 17-month low of US$1.1186 last month. headtopics.com
(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Sam Holmes)Read more: CNA »
Omicron rapidly dominating in South Africa, US reports first caseJOHANNESBURG/WASHINGTON: Heavily mutated Omicron is rapidly becoming the dominant variant of the coronavirus in South Africa less than four weeks after it was first detected there, and the United States on Wednesday (Dec 1) became the latest country to identify an Omicron case within its borders. The 要關注那個在日本被確診的納米比亞外交官，我們要知道他的狀況如何？
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