The dollar turned decisively higher on Tuesday as traders struggled to get a grip on the diverging growth outlooks between the world’s two largest economies, while at the same time grew immune to another disappointing set of Chinese trade figures.
China’s exports fell an annual 14.5% in July while imports contracted 12.4%, data on Tuesday showed, marking the biggest decline in outbound shipments from the world’s second largest economy since February 2020.
The yuan and the Australian and New Zealand dollars extended their fall in an initial knee-jerk reaction to the figures, but soon pared some of those losses on the belief that the weak data only reinforced the need for further stimulus measures from Beijing.
The offshore yuan was last 0.24% lower at 7.2214, while the Aussie slipped 0.35% to $0.6551.
The kiwi fell 0.27% to $0.60905. The two Antipodean currencies are often used as liquid proxies for the Chinese yuan.
“Those weaker exports and imports figures just underscores the weak external and domestic demand in the Chinese economy,” said Carol Kong, a currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
“I think markets have grown increasingly insensitive to disappointing Chinese economic figures … we’ve got to a point where weak data will just reinforce calls for further policy support.”
Elsewhere, the U.S. dollar rose broadly and eked out a 0.6% gain against its Japanese counterpart to last trade at 143.31 yen.
Data on Tuesday showed that Japanese real wages fell for a 15th straight month in June on relentless price hikes, but nominal pay growth remained robust amid rising salaries for high-income workers and a broadening labour crunch.
While currency moves had been minimal in the early Asian day, the dollar extended its gains over the course of the trading session as risk sentiment turned fragile and Asian stocks failed to ride Wall Street’s rally.