FOREX-Dollar falls for the second consecutive day and currency markets change course

By Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) – The dollar weakened for the second straight session on Tuesday, slipping away from a 19-week high hit in late January, while risk-sensitive currencies such as the Australian dollar and sterling advanced.

* After losing nearly 5% in January, global equities started February somewhat firmer, while currency markets also turned around.

* After hitting a 19-month high last week, the dollar index was down on Monday and by 1223 GMT Tuesday it was down 0.4% at 96.281.

* The euro strengthened, rising 0.3% on the day to $1.12705.

* The dollar’s downward turn could be due to month-end flows, which led investors to sell dollars in the last week. Improved risk appetite seen in equity markets may also be playing a role, as the US currency is considered a safe-haven currency.

* The dollar also weakened against its Japanese pair, to 114.635 yen, and hit a six-day low against the Swiss franc.

* The Australian dollar fell sharply overnight after the Reserve Bank of Australia rejected expectations of short-term interest rate hikes until inflation is higher. However, it recovered soon and was up 0.5% on the day at $0.71045.

* For its part, the pound sterling gained 0.3% to 1.3488 dollars.

(Edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)

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