By John McCrank
NEWYORK -The dollar edged lower in thin holiday trading on Wednesday, while the safe-haven yen touched a one-month low as investors looked beyond a surge in Omicron cases and favored riskier currencies.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six global peers, was down 0.206% at 95.932, having turned negative around the start of the North American session.
With many traders having taken time off ahead of the year-end, analysts cautioned against reading too much into the moves.
“In times like these we trade very technically as short term jobbers try to eek out some final year-end gains,” Brad Bechtel, global head of FX at Jefferies, said in a note to clients.
FX flows have been on the “lighter side of usual for a month end, corroborating the view that most of that flow happened last week or even sooner,” he added.
Investor sentiment has been buoyed in recent days by signs the Omicron variant, while causing a jump in cases to record highs in many countries, is not leading to new, widespread lockdowns.
U.S. health authorities on Monday shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 to five days from a previous guidance of 10.
Risk-sensitive currencies such as the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars, were higher, while stocks were mixed.
“The Omicron variant continues to rage and fails to register on this market, even as global cases topped a million for the second day running,” said Saxo Bank analysts.
The Aussie was up 0.35% at $0.72515, the Kiwi was up 0.28% at $0.6823, and the loonie rose 0.16% to C$1.2794.
The euro gained 0.29% to $1.13415, while sterling rose 0.45% to $1.34875.
The Japanese yen touched 115.04 to the dollar, its lowest since late November. While the yen has been battered by the strength of investors’ risk appetite, analysts said end-of-quarter investor flows were also impacting the currency.
Elsewhere, Turkey’s lira dropped more than 6% to around 12.58 per dollar, eating further into huge gains made the previous week, as worries persisted over soaring inflation and unorthodox monetary policy.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was last down 0.67% at $47,223, while ether, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, was down 1.57% at $3,733.