By Gina Lee
Investing.com – The dollar was down on Friday morning in Asia, with investors towards riskier assets as fears of the omicron COVID-19 variant’s virulence continue to fade.
The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies inched down 0.02% to 96.035 by 10:52 PM ET (3:52 AM GMT).
The USD/JPY pair inched down 0.03% to 114.35, with Japan’s cabinet approving a record initial budget for the year starting in April 2022. According to the country’s Finance Ministry, Japan plans JPY107.6 trillion yen ($941.26 billion) in overall spending for the year ending March 2023, a 0.9% increase from the current year’s initial budget.
Meanwhile, data released earlier in the day showed that Japan’s national core consumer price index grew 0.5% year-on-year in November.
The USD/CNY pair inched up 0.01% to 6.3702, with the People’s Bank of China setting a weaker-than-forecast yuan fixing, at 6.3692 per dollar, for a record 15th day on Friday. This is the longest period of lower-than-expected yuan fixings since surveys began in 2018, based on instances when the rate is even a fraction below the estimate.
The GBP/USD pair inched up 0.03% to 1.3409.
Volumes were thin ahead of the holidays, with U.S. markets closed and other markets, such as Hong Kong, ending the trading day early.
A U.K. study that said omicron infections are less likely to lead to hospitalization also boosted sentiment. However, the study added that the variant may still produce a substantial number of serious cases due to its infectiousness.
Meanwhile, a laboratory study showed that two doses and a booster of Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s vaccine did not produce sufficient levels of neutralizing antibodies to protect against omicron.
Elsewhere in Asia Pacific, authorities locked down the western Chinese city of Xi’an, the biggest such move since the pandemic started in early 2020. The city’s 13 million residents were told to remain in their homes and to designate one person to go out every other day for necessities, in a bid to curb China’s latest COVID-19 outbreak.
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