Long seen as a place of safety in times of turmoil, the dollar may be losing its haven appeal.
Soaring oil prices, driven by upheaval in the Middle East, falling equities and elevated volatility have all made investors uneasy. A flight to the dollar usually accompanies increased risk aversion.
This time, though, while the traditional havens of the Swiss franc and the yen have benefited, the US currency has suffered.
“It seems the dollar’s haven status has vanished,” says Steve Barrow at Standard Bank. “And, even for long-term dollar bears like ourselves, this is a worry.”
The main reason for the dollar’s underperformance, say analysts, is concern about the effect of rising oil prices.
The dollar has dropped to a record low against the Swiss franc and fallen 2 per cent to Y81.82 against the yen in the past two weeks, just shy of the all-time low of Y79.7 it hit against the Japanese currency in 1995. It has also lost ground against the euro and sterling.
The fear is that higher oil prices will lead to a transfer of funds from oil-importing countries to the sovereign wealth funds of oil-exporting nations.
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