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A food seller holds a new polymer five-pound note at Whitecross Street Market in London September 13, 2016. — Reuters pic

Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 4:40 PM MYT

LONDON, June 22 — The euro and sterling fell today as investors turned to the safe haven dollar as part of a move away from riskier assets which also saw a stock market rally fizzle out, and after data showed British consumer price inflation hit a new 40-year high.

With investors turning nervous again about global growth prospects, the US dollar gained ground on most peers. The yen hit a fresh 24-year low as rising US and European bond yields contrasted with low Japanese interest rates.

Sterling was down 0.8 per cent at US$1.2198 (RM5.37), touching its lowest level in almost a week, after British consumer prices rose to 9.1 per cent last month, the highest rate out of the Group of Seven countries, underlining the severity of the cost-of-living crunch.

Mike Bell, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said as real wages in Britain are already being squeezed by higher prices, increasing borrowing costs further “could feel like rubbing salt in the wound” and elevates the risk of a recession. He, however, expected the Bank of England to keep raising rates in an effort to tackle inflation until clear signs emerge that the labour market is weakening.

“The Bank of England (is) stuck between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

Today’s other main event is the start of US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s two-day testimony to Congress, with investors looking for further clues on whether another 75 basis point rate hike is on the cards at the Fed’s July meeting.

The dollar index was 0.33 per cent higher at 104.8. The euro fell 0.4 per cent to US$1.0497.

The yen was last drifting 0.3 per cent lower at 136.3 per dollar, having hit 136.71 in early trade, its lowest since October 1998.

Analysts see no immediate end to a sell-off that has seen the yen weaken 18 per cent this year from 115.08 at the end of 2021.

The currency has been weakening as higher energy prices put pressure on Japan’s current account and because of the ever- widening gap between yields on Japanese government bonds and US Treasuries.

The Bank of Japan last week maintained ultra-low interest rates and vowed to defend its policy of yield curve control (YCC), which effectively caps the yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond at 0.25 per cent.

“Dollar/yen is continuing to trade on the Treasury yields, which have been stable but with the 10-year staying above the 3.20 per cent level while the Bank of Japan has done a lot to defend YCC,” said Redmond Wong, market strategist at Saxo Markets Hong Kong.

Commodity currencies Norwegian crown fell 1.3 per cent against the dollar to 9.9740, and the Australian dollar fell 1.1 per cent to US$0.6898, as low commodity prices also weighed. — Reuters