April 7, 2017 / 8:23 AM / 4 months ago

Yen gains, rouble tumbles after U.S. missile strike

3 Min Read

Illustrative picture shows Japanese 10,000 yen bank notes spread out at an office of World Currency Shop in Tokyo in this August 9, 2010 illustrative picture.Yuriko Nakao/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The safe-haven yen climbed and the Russian rouble tumbled on Friday, after the United States launched cruise missiles at an airbase in Syria, raising tensions with Russia.

After U.S. President Donald Trump said he had ordered the strike, which hit a base from which the United States said Syria had launched a chemical weapons attack, a spokesman for the Russian president said the strike had seriously damaged ties between Washington and Moscow.

The yen, which investors tend to flock to at times when they perceive an increase in political or financial risk, strengthened to an 11-day high of 110.135 to the dollar in Asian trading.

By 0800 GMT, though, it was up just 0.2 percent on the day at 110.60 yen per dollar.

UBS Wealth Management's head of currency strategy in Zurich, Constantin Bolz, said more significant market moves would depend on the fallout from the strike.

"Is this just Donald Trump just giving a warning sign, showing that he is a strong man, but he doesn’t really want to do anything, or is this the start of an escalation?" he said.

The rouble, meanwhile, skidded over 1 percent to 57.14 roubles per dollar, putting it on course for its biggest one-day falls in a month.

"The geopolitics in the region is not positive for the currency so what we see is a knee-jerk reaction," said ING's chief EMEA currency and rates strategist Petr Krpata, in London.

"But unless these things are followed up and there is a further escaltion, they do not usually last."

The dollar index, which gauges the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was flat on the day at 100.69, up 0.3 percent for the week.

Later on Friday, the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show an increase of 180,000 jobs in March, according to economists polled by Reuters, which could reinforce expectations that the Federal Reserve will deliver two more interest rate increases this calendar year.

UBS's Bolz said, though, that the labour market data was at the moment less important to the Fed's considerations on monetary policy than inflation data and global financial market pressures.

"The US labour market is fine – it doesn’t really matter if payrolls come in 10,000 or 15,000 higher or lower," he said.

The U.S. air strike came during a two-day summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and will add a new dimension to their talks.

The meeting had a strong focus on trade and North Korea's military programme. Trump had warned that he would be ready to act unilaterally to address North Korea's nuclear program if China does not step up to help in the matter.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets

Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London and markets team in Tokyo; editing by Andrew Roche

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