Dollar bounces after Trump-fuelled sell-off

The dollar on Wednesday recovered from a hefty sell-off that came after Donald Trump and one of his key economic advisers hit out at other nations using their weaker currencies to gain a trade advantage.

The outbursts are the latest from the unpredictable administration that has spooked global markets and fuelled a wave of uncertainty, leading traders to seek out safe investments.

Peter Navarro, who advised Trump during the campaign and heads the White House's new National Trade Council, said in an interview with the Financial Times that Germany "continues to exploit other countries in the EU as well as the US with an 'implicit Deutsche mark' that is grossly undervalued".

Later, Trump told a meeting of business executives that China and Japan had "played the money market and the devaluation market", suggesting they had been keeping their currencies weak to boost trade.

The comments sent the yen and euro surging against the dollar Tuesday. The US unit clawed back slightly Wednesday although most high-yielding currencies, including the South Korean won, Australian dollar and Indonesian rupiah, held gains.

The greenback's struggles this week are a far cry from the rally that followed Trump's November election win, when investors bet his plans to cut taxes and spend big on infrastructure would fire the US economy, stoke inflation and lead to interest rate hikes.

No one is safe

While the tycoon will likely press on with those measures, the latest remarks added to worries that the White House is intent on pursuing a protectionist agenda that many warn could lead to a global trade war.

"It appears that no one is safe, friend or foe from the wrath of this new US administration when it comes to trade," Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said in a note.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei ended a volatile day 0.6 percent higher, boosted by the dip in the yen and bargain-buying two days of big losses.

Hong Kong ended down 0.2 percent, with dealers brushing off data showing Chinese factory activity expanded last month, suggesting the world's number two economy is stabilising.

Sydney and Seoul each closed 0.6 percent higher, while Singapore rose 0.5 percent and Wellington added 0.1 percent.

Mumbai jumped one percent after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his annual budget that he would halve the basic rate of income tax to five percent. In early European trade London rose 0.7 percent, Frankfurt added one percent and Paris put on 0.8 percent.

Markets started the week in the red after Trump's much-criticised executive order Friday banning entry to travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and imposing a temporary ban on refugees.

And while Asia enjoyed a pick-up, Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader, warned: "As uncertainty grows and investors recognise there are some uncertainties around Trumponomics and the reflation of the US economy -- they are taking some cash off the table."

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