The main commodity currencies took another spill on Friday, capping what for some was set to be their worst week since the March COVID collapse, while volatility gauges climbed ahead of next week’s U.S. election.
With Brent already down 10% for the week and still sliding, traders seemed ready to sell anything linked to crude.
Russia’s rouble dropped 0.5% to near 80 per dollar on course for a 4% weekly drop. Norway’s crown was down at 9.57 per dollar after a near 3.5% skid, while Canada’s dollar was facing its worst week since April.
It came as the global tally of coronavirus cases rose by over 500,000 for the first time. France and Germany were going back into almost complete lockdowns and Thursday saw the United States notch a record 91,000 new cases.
The dollar paused its climb on the euro meanwhile. The European Central Bank said on Thursday that it will ramp up its emergency money printing programmes in December. The euro was near a four-week low at $1.1679.
“The oil currencies are really on edge because of a pretty ugly fall in crude,” said Saxo Bank’s head of FX strategy John Hardy.
“On the euro, you can peg it to the ECB - it is clear something big is coming in December - but the music is sounding very sour in the background with the coronavirus too.”
Data later on Friday includes euro zone third-quarter GDP, which will show an improvement, according to ECB chief Christine Lagarde, plus October inflation and September unemployment.
In the United States, September personal consumption and expenditure looms and the Chicago PMI.
The dollar index was flat at 93.889 but within reach of Thursday’s four-week high at 93.916, setting it up for the biggest weekly gains since the end of September.
Still, uncertainty surrounding Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election and coronavirus fears dominate.
Euro-dollar volatility gauges have hit their highest since March. The risk-sensitive Aussie dollar last sat at $0.7032, a fraction above a three-month low of $0.7002 marked overnight.
If the election result is contested by either Donald Trump or Joe Biden, or the result divides the Senate and the House of representatives between the two parties, safe-haven currencies are almost certain to gain, Hardy added.
The greenback edged lower against the Japanese yen at 104.30 yen, after rallying overnight from a five-week trough as it benefited from a rebound in U.S. treasury yields and broad dollar buying.
“104 is a big level for dollar-yen,” Hardy said. “Over a particularly chaotic U.S. election scenario, it will be interesting to see what happens.”
Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Kim Coghill and Barbara Lewis