The yen was ready for its worst week in two-and-a-half years Friday, as fears over the staggering spread of the coronavirus epidemic pushed funds out of Asia and looking for safety in the U.S. greenback, gold, and bonds.
Though it barely moved Friday, the yen has lost 2% against the greenback within the previous two days, because of weak Japanese economic data and coronavirus concerns.
China reported an uptick in diseases from a virus that has already killed over 2,200 individuals there and deadened its economy.
South Korea registered 52 new cases, lifting its national total by a third to 156. Japan has reported new deaths and, together with Singapore, stands on the brink of recession.
“Market contributors are getting anxious over the outbreak of COVID-19 in other nations now,” stated Johanna Chua, rising markets Asia economist at Citi in Hong Kong.
The Australian greenback traded at an 11-year low of $0.6603 and the kiwi at a four-month low of $0.6310.
Both are heavily exposed to China through trade and have lost 6% since the beginning of 2020. The tourism-exposed Thai baht has plunged 5.5% while the Korean won and Singapore dollar have lost over 4%.
In opposition to a basket of currencies, the dollar is settling just below a 3-year high hit overnight.
Yet amid the flight that drove gold to a seven-year high and U.S. treasury 10-year yields under 1.5%, the yen slightly nursed its losses at 112.00 per dollar.