March 11, 2020 / 1:00 AM / 20 days ago

FOREX-Dollar resumes descent against safe-haven currencies in volatile trade

* Dollar down vs yen, Swiss franc and euro

* Market remains nervous of U.S. coronavirus outbreak

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, March 11 (Reuters) - The dollar resumed its descent against the safe-haven Japanese yen and Swiss franc on Wednesday after a rebound the previous day as nervous sentiment over the coronavirus epidemic persisted.

The moves mirrored falls in U.S. equity futures and U.S. bond yields in early trade in Asia on Wednesday, with most investors still on the sidelines even after risk assets made some recovery on Tuesday on hopes governments will take measures to ease the economic pain from the epidemic.

Against the yen, the dollar lost 0.6% to 104.98 yen, down almost a full yen from Tuesday’s high.

The Swiss franc also gained 0.25% to 0.9369 franc per dollar while the euro stood at $1.1304, up 0.21% so far in Asia.

“Liquidity is so thin at the moment. There are very few orders in the market, most of which appear to come from algorithm players,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

“All we can say is trade will remain volatile for the time being.”

The dollar had jumped back on Tuesday as investors hoped global monetary policymakers will launch further stimulus plans aimed at bolstering economies hit by trade and travel disruptions.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he will ask Congress for a payroll tax cut and other “very major” stimulus moves, although the details remain unclear.

“It is too early to say the market sentiment has turned positive. Yesterday’s rebound in the dollar and in risk assets is a type of a rebound you often see in a downtrend,” said Shinji Ishimaru, senior currency analyst at MUFG Bank.

“In addition to economic measures, the focus will be on how much the U.S. can contain the infections to keep the economy going. That is a very big unknown,” he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Tuesday 696 cases of coronavirus, an increase of 224 from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by six to 25.

Financial markets are also expecting the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by at least 0.5 percentage point at its policy review next week, in addition to its emergency rate reduction earlier this month.

That will essentially diminish the dollar’s yield advantage over other major currencies, which has been a main driver of the dollar’s strength in the past few years. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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