The US dollar is pushing higher versus most emerging market currencies on Thursday on reduced risk appetite. A sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths has hit risk sentiment across the global markets. The US dollar Pakistani Rupee exchange rate is trading at Rs154.400 on the open market, after closing 5 paisas higher on Wednesday to close at Rs154.36.
The Pakistani Rupee, along with other emerging market stocks and currencies are under pressure on Thursday following a jump in the number of coronavirus cases amid a new diagnostic method in China. The new data has dashed investors’ hopes that the virus outbreak could soon peak.
As of the end of Wednesday, the death toll in China was at 1,367, up 242 from the previous day according to the Chinese National Health Commission.
Pakistan is a close trading partner with China, which means it is particularly vulnerable to any slowdown in the world’s second largest economy. This was pointed out but the IMF earlier in the week, who warned that Pakistan’s GDP growth could slow significantly on the back of the coronavirus outbreak.
Offering some support to the Pakistani Rupee was a report saying that broadly speaking, Pakistan had achieved most of the goals the IMF had set for it as talks between the IMF and Pakistan concluded on Wednesday. The two sides have agreed that there will be no mini-budget or a reduction in tax revenue target.
US inflation will be in focus later in the session. Analysts are expecting headline inflation to increase to 2.5% year on year, up from 2.3% in December. However, core inflation which excludes more volatile items such as food and fuel is expected to tick lower to 2.2% from 2.3%. Still, this would remain comfortably above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.
Should inflation surprise to the downside, it could bring forward rate cut expectations; expectations which Fed Chair Jerome Powell pushed slightly back in his testimony before Congress.
US dollar investors will continue to monitor coronavirus headlines. Safe havens the Japanese Yen and Swiss Franc are trading higher today, whilst the US dollar is broadly lower versus major peers.