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Dollar steadies as traders review Omicron news

The dollar traded basically fixed Thursday, with the safe-haven Japanese yen more in demand as concerns over the omicron coronavirus variant mounted, pulling on the South African rand and the Australian dollar.

The Dollar Index follows the dollar versus a basket of six other currencies. At 2:50 AM ET (0750 GMT) it trimmed marginally higher to 96.090, consolidating in the middle of its range across the past two weeks.

EUR/USD dropped marginally to 1.1315. GBP/USD rose 0.2% to 1.3299. USD/JPY increased 0.4% to 113.23, a recovery of sorts from Tuesday’s low of 112.53, a level not witnessed after Oct. 11.

Additionally, the risk-sensitive AUD/USD rose 0.1% to 0.7110, not far from Tuesday’s low of 0.7063. This was its weakest since early November of last year. Meanwhile, USD/ZAR fell 0.3% to 15.9760, following a more than 1% surge overnight.

Adding to the worries was the news late Wednesday that the U.S. reported its first case of the Omicron variant. In opposition, the number of new cases recorded in South Africa increased from Tuesday to Wednesday, when the Omicron was first identified. The new variant became the dominant strain, considering for nearly three-quarters of cases.

Much continues unknown regarding the new variant, which has spread to at least two dozen countries in about three weeks. However, the World Health Organization stated Wednesday that it anticipates more information on its transmissibility within days.

Data release

The leading U.S. economic data announcement listed for Thursday will be the weekly initial unemployment claims, different indications of the health of the U.S. labor market. This follows ADP private payrolls increasing 534,000 in November, less than in October but more than anticipated, ahead of Friday’s much-anticipated government jobs report. 

Subsequently, USD/TRY increased 1.5% to 13.4581. The lira traded near record lows, following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abruptly replacing his finance minister, Lutfi Elvan. Therefore implying rifts within the administration over the policy of competitive interest-rate cuts notwithstanding raging inflation.

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