Yen soars as investors stampede to safety; oil-exposed currencies tank


SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The Japanese yen leapt 1.6% to a more than three-year high on Monday as the widening reach of the coronavirus sent investors scrambling for safety, while oil-exposed currencies plunged after Saudi Arabia slashed its selling price.

“It’s going to be ugly,” said Michael McCarthy, chief markets’ strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “Best of luck.”

In early trade, the yen broke through 104 per dollar and kept rising as high as 103.52 per dollar.

The Japanese currency is regarded as a safe haven by virtue of the country’s status as the world’s biggest creditor.

While the yen soared, the dollar dived against the euro as trade in U.S. Treasury futures pointed to 10-year yields crumbling below 0.5% () – effectively removing one of the dollar’s greatest attractions.

The euro () last stood at an 8-month high of $ 1.1380.

The number of people infected with the coronavirus topped 107,000 across the world as the outbreak reached more countries and caused more economic disruption.

Italy ordered a lockdown of large parts of the north of the country, including the financial capital Milan.

Oil prices collapsed, dropping by more than 20% after Saudi Arabia, the world’s top exporter, vowed to raise its production significantly after the collapse of OPEC’s supply cut agreement with Russia.

That hammered oil exporters’ currencies.

The Mexican peso dropped as far as 6% against the dollar. The Canadian dollar fell more than 1% to a 14-month low.

The Norwegian krone shed 3% to hit a record trough and the Russian rouble plunged by 4% to its lowest in nearly four years.

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