Currencies

Dollar surges across board, oil-linked currencies fall

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Key Points
  • Oil-linked currencies like the Norwegian crown and the Canadian dollar were the worst performing currencies on Tuesday.
  • Against the ultimate safe-haven currency - the Japanese yen - the dollar was last trading down 0.2% at 107.40.
  • It comes as U.S. crude oil futures plunged into negative territory for the first time.
U.S. one-hundred dollar banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019.
Paul Yeung | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. dollar rose on Tuesday against most major currencies as investors sought a safe haven after a plunge in oil prices a day earlier.

U.S. crude oil futures plunged into negative territory for the first time on Monday, dragged by a supply glut and sagging demand due to the novel coronavirus pandemic though they managed to scrape back into positive territory early Tuesday.

Oil-linked currencies like the Norwegian crown and the Canadian dollar were the worst performing currencies on Tuesday, along with the Swedish crown, a currency very sensitive to global economic stability.

The Norwegian crown was down 0.7% at 10.51 against the dollar and the Canadian dollar fell 0.4% to 1.4211 against the greenback, a two-week low.

The Swedish crown was down 0.5% at 10.07.

The euro was last down 0.3% at $1.0833.

"The euro is suffering as markets contemplate the increased borrowing that will be necessary to fund the recovery" from COVID-19, said Marshall Gittler, analyst at broker BDSwiss. European countries have been issuing debt to support their economies which have been frozen by the lockdowns.

Against the ultimate safe-haven currency - the Japanese yen - the dollar was last trading down 0.2% at 107.40.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery was trading last -$2.51 per barrel, off a low of minus $40 hit in New York trading.

The May contract expires on Tuesday. The more actively traded June contract was down at $20.27 a barrel.

"Oil is off its lows, but a lot of companies are going to get hit and companies could start to fail," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney.

"If share prices have a pullback, the dollar could see some gains as a safe haven. The only thing that's capping the dollar is that the Federal Reserve has done more quantitative easing than anyone else."

Factory closures and travel curbs enforced to slow the pace of new infections have triggered a collapse in oil prices. This is drawing money from commodity currencies and other risk assets to the safety of dollar-denominated assets.

At 0900 GMT, analysts will be watching for the German ZEW economic sentiment survey. Economists polled by Reuters expect the economic sentiment and current conditions in April to show an even more bleak environment.