In this July 12, 2022 file photo, a $100-dollar bill is seen on top of Euro bills in Bogota. (PHOTO / AFP)
SINGAPORE – The safe haven US dollar and Japanese yen found support on Thursday from renewed fears of a global banking crisis, after contagion from the implosion of US-based Silicon Valley Bank spread across the Atlantic to Swiss bank Credit Suisse.
Credit Suisse said on Thursday it would borrow up to $54 billion from the Swiss National Bank to shore up liquidity and investor confidence, after its shares on Wednesday plunged as much as 30 percent, which prompted the Swiss central bank to throw a financial lifeline to the embattled lender.
While the news helped to stem some heavy selling in Asia trade, market sentiment remained fragile as worries mount that the recent stress unfolding across banks in the US and Europe could be a harbinger of a widespread systemic crisis.
That sent traders flocking to the greenback and yen, which are considered safer bets in times of turmoil, keeping the two currencies buoyed on Thursday.
The yen jumped more than 0.5 percent to extend Wednesday's 0.6 percent gain, and last stood at 132.80 per dollar. Against the Swiss franc, the dollar pared some of its previous session's 2.15 percent surge – the largest daily gain since 2015 – but kept the Swissie pinned near a one-week low
The yen jumped more than 0.5 percent to extend Wednesday's 0.6 percent gain, and last stood at 132.80 per dollar.
Against the Swiss franc, the dollar pared some of its previous session's 2.15 percent surge – the largest daily gain since 2015 – but kept the Swissie pinned near a one-week low.
"Now, Credit Suisse has the clout of (the) Swiss National Bank covering its back, which is a central bank that doesn't not mess around in the time of crisis," said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index.
"So ultimately, I think this is a good thing for market sentiment. I'm just not sure if or when investors will draw the same conclusion with all the emotion in the air."
Credit Suisse, which is battling to recover from a string of scandals that have undermined the confidence of investors and clients, was the latest casualty to be caught up in a crisis of confidence after the collapse of SVB last week.
SVB's shutdown on Friday, followed two days later by the collapse of Signature Bank, forced US President Joe Biden to rush out assurances the financial system was safe and prompted emergency US measures giving banks access to more funding.
"Given the elevated uncertainties and concerns about broader financial contagion, the dollar, as well as the yen, will be the main beneficiaries because of safe haven demand," said Carol Kong, a currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).
ALSO READ: Credit Suisse secures $54b lifeline amid scramble to prevent crisis
Elsewhere, the euro was nursing deep losses on Thursday, last rising 0.27 percent to $1.0607, after tumbling 1.4 percent in the previous session. Likewise, sterling gained 0.14 percent to $1.20725, having fallen close to 0.9 percent on Wednesday.
Against a basket of currencies, the US dollar index was last 0.16 percent lower at 104.48, paring some of its roughly 1 percent gain in the previous session.
Investors remained on tenterhooks as they await further clarity on how widespread the fallout could be, with rescue measures from authorities doing little to soothe heightened fears thus far.
The focus has also turned to how central banks will navigate their paths on future rate hikes, with policymakers left in a bind on how much further they should raise rates to stem inflation without triggering a financial sector shakeout
The focus has also turned to how central banks will navigate their paths on future rate hikes, with policymakers left in a bind on how much further they should raise rates to stem inflation without triggering a financial sector shakeout.
The European Central Bank meets later on Thursday and is due to announce its interest rate decision following the meeting.
Ahead of that, traders have quickly moved to scale back their bets on a 50-basis-point rate hike, as the rout in Credit Suisse shares fanned concerns about the health of Europe's banks.
Two supervisory sources told Reuters that the ECB has contacted banks on its watch to quiz them on their exposure to Credit Suisse.
"There is certainly a risk that the ECB will not follow through with its pre-commitment of a 50-basis-point hike because of financial stability concerns," said CBA's Kong.
"It will definitely be a tough call for any major central bank to stick with its tightening path."
READ MORE: Banks pile into euro zone bond sales as rates shoot up
Elsewhere, the risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars were struggling to make headway after having slid close to 1 percent each on Wednesday.
The Aussie was last 0.23 percent higher at $0.6637, while the kiwi fell 0.42 percent to $0.6162, further pressured by weak economic data released on Thursday which showed New Zealand's economy shrinking in the fourth quarter.