Markets quiet down as risk-aversion takes a breather

The dollar continues to consolidate its gains early Wednesday as investors move to the sidelines while awaiting fresh developments surrounding the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Markets remain cautious but safe-haven assets struggle to continue to gather strength mid-week. January JOLTS Job Openings and the EIA’s weekly Crude Oil Stocks Change data will be featured in the US economic docket ahead of Thursday’s critical US inflation report and the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary policy meeting.

In a public address at the White House on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced a ban on all Russian imports of oil, gas and energy. Furthermore, the British government released a statement and explained that they will be phasing out imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of the year. Following these developments, crude oil prices continue to rise with the barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) trading above $126.00 and gaining more than 1% on the day.

Late Tuesday, several news outlets reported that Ukraine was no longer insisting on NATO membership and this headline allowed markets to breathe a sigh of relief. Although this development by itself doesn’t necessarily point to an end to the crisis, investors seem to have turned slightly more optimistic about the possibility of a diplomatic solution. The US Dollar Index closed in negative territory on Tuesday and was last seen posting small daily losses below 99.00. The benchmark 10-year US Treasury bond yield rose more than 4% on Tuesday and started to move sideways around 1.85% early Wednesday.

EUR/USD snapped a five-day losing streak on Tuesday and seems to have settled above 1.0900 heading into the European session.

GBP/USD failed to stage a convincing rebound on Tuesday but trades in positive territory above 1.3100 early Wednesday.

Gold largely ignored the positive shift witnessed in risk sentiment and extended its rally toward a new all-time high above $2,070 before losing its traction. XAU/USD is trading in a narrow channel near $2,050.

USD/JPY edged higher toward 116.00 during the Asian trading hours after the data from Japan showed that the annualized GDP expanded by 4.6% in the fourth quarter, compared to the market expectation of 5.6%.

AUD/USD registered losses in the first two trading days of the week and broke below 0.7300 but Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe’s comments helped the AUD find demand and limited the pair’s losses. Lowe said that it was plausible that the policy rate will be increased later this year.

Bitcoin gathered bullish momentum and broke above $40,000 early Wednesday. BTC/USD was last seen rising more than 7% on the day above $41.000. Ethereum gained 3.5% on Tuesday and it’s already up 6% on Wednesday at $2,725.

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