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The dollar fell against safe havens such as the and in early trading in Europe Friday, but was higher against most other currencies after President Donald Trump announced a sharp escalation of the U.S.’s trade war with China.
The yen had its best day against the dollar in two years on Thursday after the announcement of a new 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of imports from China. By 3 AM ET (0700 GMT), it was at 106.95 to the dollar, having risen to its highest since April 2018 against the greenback earlier.
The dollar was also lower against the franc at 0.9880, as traders unwound carry trades in a broad risk-off move across all markets.
Trump’s shattered a fragile truce with China over trade that had been hastily put in place ahead of the G20 summit a month ago. It represents a sharp escalation of the conflict, by extending tariffs to effectively all U.S. imports from China. As such, the risk of them feeding through to higher prices for U.S. consumers is markedly higher.
Analysts from the Peterson Institute in Washington estimated that the move will raise the average tariff on Chinese products to 21.5%, from barely 3% in 2017 when Trump took power.
Trump’s move came only a day after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell had pointed to the trade dispute as the biggest single risk facing the U.S. and global economies – observations that drew criticism from Trump show said that Powell had “let us down.”
“Ironically the Fed’s easing gives the President the breathing space to now play hard ball,” Megan Greene, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, said via Twitter.
The dollar surged against high-yielders overnight, hitting a 10-year high against the and rising sharply against the and . It also surged 1% against the , although China’s central bank restrained the drop in the .
The impact on the and was less severe, although reports that Trump may make an announcement on trade with the EU later Friday added to the general sense of unease.
The , which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, hit its highest level since May 2017 at 98.697 overnight, before retracing to 98.105 in European trading.
The escalation of the trade war threatens to overshadow what would normally be the main event of the monthly economic calendar – the release of the U.S. labor market report for July. growth is expected to have slowed to 160,000 from 224,000 in June.
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