Dollar slips as Chinese data improves

The dollar fell Tuesday, much to the enjoyment of sterling and Australian dollar holders, after better-than-expected economic data from China which painted a less gloomy picture of the new coronavirus’ economic fallout than markets had feared.

China’s March exports fell 6.6% from a year earlier, compared with a forecast for a 14% drop and imports fell by less than 1%, compared with a 9.5% drop anticipated by economists.

Daily fatalities in the United States also fell sharply and states began plans to re-open their economies, leaving traders to abandon the safety net of the most liquid currency – the dollar – and turn to more risky currencies.

The Australian dollar rose to a more than one-month high of 0.6432 per U.S. dollar and was last up 0.5%.

Sterling went up by the same magnitute, touching $1.2575, its highest since March 13, up 0.5% on the day. The pound had been closely linked to the performance of the equity market for the past weeks.

The euro inched higher by 0.2% to $1.0932.

The only currency the dollar was down against in the major economies was the Japanese yen, which rose 0.1% versus the greenback to 107.69 yen.

“The ongoing improvement in global investor risk sentiment in the near-term combined with the Fed’s aggressive policy response is beginning to weigh down more on the U.S. dollar,” said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at MUFG.

The mood in the forex markets was preempted by leveraged funds last week, whose net short U.S. dollar positioning in the latest week touched their largest level since May 2018, according to calculations by Reuters and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday.

The value of the net short dollar position was $10.5 billion in the week ended on April 7, from net shorts of $9.9 billion the previous week. Speculators have been short on the U.S. dollar for four consecutive weeks.