The dollar edged higher versus the yen on Monday following a choppy end to last week, while disappointing trade figures out of China barely dented an already defensive Australian dollar.
The dollar initially fell on Friday after headline payrolls data showed the U.S. economy added the fewest jobs in seven months in April.
But the market was quick to reverse positions on closer look at the numbers, which showed an encouraging pick-up in annual wage growth.
Also helping the dollar’s rebound was New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley who said two U.S. rate hikes this year were still a “reasonable expectation”.
All that left the dollar back at, or slightly firmer than, levels seen prior to the closely watched payrolls report.
“Higher than expected annual wage growth keeps alive Fed rate hike hopes, but the growing risk is a delayed Fed rate hike,” said Richard Grace, chief currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank.
“This week we have April retail sales on Friday, and we anticipate some further modest strength in the USD as leading Q2 economic data improves.”
There was limited reaction to comments by Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on Monday that Tokyo is ready to intervene in the currency market if yen moves are volatile enough to hurt the country’s trade and economy.
Analysts said market participants may be reluctant to increase their bearish bets on the dollar versus the yen at this point, after having ramped up such bets recently.
Any respite for the dollar, however, may prove short-lived, said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.
“In the end, the market will probably try to push the dollar lower as the prospects for U.S. interest rate rises move further out, almost like a mirage,” Okagawa said.
In contrast to the mixed U.S. jobs data, trade figures out of China on Sunday were clearly disappointing. Both exports and imports fell more than expected last month, underlining weak demand at home and abroad and dimming hopes of a recovery in the economy.
Yet the Australian dollar, often used as a liquid proxy for China plays, managed to shrug off the data.
The Aussie had already been heavily sold off after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) last Friday slashed its inflation forecasts, prompting markets to fully price in another cut in interest rates this year.
The Aussie dropped more than 3% last week – its second worst weekly performance this year.
News of Canada’s most destructive wildfire in recent memory unsettled the loonie first thing on Monday.
Oil prices though rallied as supply outages persisted from the wildfires that have shut half of Canada’s vast oil sands capacity.