Dollar firmer as banking fears fade; yen sinks on quarter-end flows

In this photo illustration, US 100 dollar bills seen on an American flag.
Igor Golovniov | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

The dollar edged higher against most major peers on Wednesday, pausing its recent declines, and gained sharply against the yen, which was volatile as the end of the Japanese fiscal year approaches.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against six rivals, was about 0.3% higher on the day at 102.72, pulling away from the near seven-week low of 101.91 touched late last week.

"The recent failures in the financial sector of the U.S. appear to be contained and the immediate bleeding has stopped," Helen Given, FX trader at Monex USA, said.

"The dollar is trading mixed today with a bit of upside as global risk sentiment improves and central banks can turn their attention back toward inflation," Given said.

Global financial markets were roiled in recent weeks as investors balked at the collapse of two U.S. lenders and the rescue of Credit Suisse, with the dollar coming under pressure as worries grew that the market turmoil may leave the Federal Reserve unable to persist with its inflation-fighting interest rate hikes.

Worries, however, have faded this week as investors took solace from First Citizens BancShares' agreement to buy all of failed lender Silicon Valley Bank's deposits and loans, and the fact that no further cracks have emerged in global banking in recent sessions.

On Tuesday, Michael Barr, the Fed's vice chairman for supervision, told the Senate Banking Committee that Silicon Valley Bank's problems were due to "terrible" risk management, suggesting it could be an isolated case.

"Vice Chair Barr's testimony to Congress yesterday helped provide USD with a little life raft, easing fears that the Fed may not be able to contain the damage of the last few weeks," Given said.

The dollar rose to a one-week high against the yen, which remained volatile in the run-up to the end of the Japanese fiscal year on Friday.

"A decent amount of USD/JPY flow today is end of quarter related," Monex USA's Given said.

"Traders are concerned with real money outcomes at the moment, but as global risk sentiment continues to improve, JPY as a traditional haven looks less appealing," she said.

The dollar was 1.36% higher at 132.64 yen.

Bitcoin rose 4.35% to $28,457, finding its feet having slid following the problems at the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, which has been sued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).