By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO (Reuters) – The yen hovered near its lowest level this year on Monday as more signs of stabilization in the Chinese economy and an upbeat start to the U.S. earnings season prompted investors to abandon the safe-haven currency to seek higher returns elsewhere.
The dollar stood at 112.02 yen, little changed on the day but near Friday’s high of 112.10, which was near its year-to-date peak of 112.135 touched in early March.
The safe-haven Swiss franc has also eased against the euro, which strengthened to 1.1340 franc, recovering its losses made late last month to hit a three-week high on the franc.
The common currency traded at $1.1312, keeping intact its slow recovery from $1.1183 touched on April 2. It rose to as high as $1.1324 on Friday.
Chinese data published on Friday showed exports rebounded sharply and new bank loans increased far more than expected in March.
Although China’s imports remained weak, the data on the whole cemented hopes that the Chinese economy is bottoming out after a soft patch as Beijing has curbed de-leveraging efforts and stepped up support for the economy in recent months.
“It all seems to have started after Friday’s Chinese data,” said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of forex at Societe Generale (PA:).
However, further moves in the currency market will be limited for now, he said.
Many market players would need to see a few months of data to confirm the strength of the Chinese economy, Suzuki said, adding that uncertainties still remain on U.S.-china trade talks and Brexit.
U.S. stocks also rallied on Friday on strong earnings from JPMorgan (NYSE:) and an 11.5-percent jump in Walt Disney (NYSE:) Co on news of its streaming services.
The has reached its highest level in six months, coming within sight of testing a record high marked in September last year.
The more positive mood helped offset any concerns about upcoming trade talks between the United States and Japan, in which Washington is expected to include a currency provision in a bilateral trade agreement.
“We are seeing a classical risk-on market,” said Minori Uchida, chief currency analyst at MUFG Bank.
But Uchida also believes the dollar’s upside may be limited, given that speculators have already built up large long positions in the U.S. currency.
Data from U.S. watchdog on Friday showed speculators bolstered their net long U.S. dollar position in the latest week, pushing it to the highest since December 2015.
Against the yen, their net dollar long position was at the highest in about three months.
Elsewhere, the Australian dollar stood at $0.7176, having hit a 1-1/2-month high of $0.71925.
The British pound fetched $1.3080, stuck in its recent trading range as fears of a no-deal Brexit have receded for now.
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