What is the impact of coronavirus on currency pairs?
Coronavirus has impacted markets around the world, from real estate to stocks to forex. Here, we’ll explain the impact of coronavirus on currency pairs, and which have been the biggest winners and losers.
What’s happening with the US dollar?
The US dollar (USD) has seen increased volatility during the pandemic, as have a range of leading currencies including the euro (EUR) and British pound sterling (GBP). But, as the world’s unofficial reserve currency and a ‘safe haven’, USD has performed better than some other currencies, as investors are still readily buying USD throughout the pandemic.
For example, USD has actually appreciated relative to GBP, the New Zealand dollar, the Canadian dollar, Mexican peso and the South Korean won. But, it has underperformed against other popular currencies, notably the euro and Swiss franc – which are themselves safe-haven currencies.
In the sections that follow, you’ll be able to see the ten USD currency cross pairs that have strengthened and weakened the most according to the performance of the USD against the base currency.
For reference, there are always two currencies in a currency pair. The base currency is the one on the left, and the quote currency is the one on the right. The price that is given for a currency pair is always how many of the quote currency it would take to buy a single unit of the base currency.
As an example, in the CHF/USD pair, the Swiss franc (CHF) is the base and USD is the quote. As the pair rises in price, it means that USD – the quote currency – is weakening against CHF, because more dollars would be required to buy a single Swiss franc.
Top 10 best performing currency pairs
The table below gives the data for the best performing USD currency cross pairs from 31 December 2019 to 31 July 2020. These pairs include base currencies that strengthened against the USD.
|MMK/USD||Myanmar kyat/US dollar||+7.4%|
|SEK/USD||Swedish krona/US dollar||+6.7%|
|CHF/USD||Swiss franc/US dollar||+6.0%|
|DKK/USD||Danish krone/US dollar||+5.4%|
|RSD/USD||Serbian dinar/US dollar||+5.3%|
|XAF/USD||Central African CFA franc/US dollar||+5.2%|
|CVE/USD||Cape Verde escudo/US dollar||+5.2%|
|BGN/USD||Bulgarian lev/US dollar||+5.0%|
|KMF/USD||Comorian franc/US dollar||+5.0%|
Top 10 worst performing currency pairs
The table below gives the data for the worst performing USD currency cross pairs from 31 December 2019 to 31 July 2020. These pairs include base currencies that weakened against the USD.
The Venezuelan bolivar is sitting at a 100%> loss because the currency experienced a negative increase of 4099% inflation from July 2019 to July 2020.
|VES/USD||Venezuelan bolivar soberano /US dollar||-100.0%>|
|SCR/USD||Seychellois rupee /US dollar||-28.3%|
|ZMW/USD||Zambian kwacha/US dollar||-23.1%|
|BRL/USD||Brazilian real/US dollar||-23.0%|
|AOA/USD||Angolan kwanza/US dollar||-19.0%|
|LSL/USD||Lesotho loti/US dollar||-18.0%|
|ZAR/USD||South African rand/US dollar||-18.0%|
|NAD/USD||Namibian dollar/US dollar||-18.0%|
|SZL/USD||Swazi lilangeni/US dollar||-18.0%|
|ARS/USD||Argentine peso/US dollar||-17.4%|
Popular USD cross performance
Contrary to the previous two sections which give the ten absolute best and worst US currency crosses from 31 December 2019 to 31 July 2020, the table below gives the performance of ten popular USD currency crosses – and whether the US has strengthened or weakened relative to the other base in the pair.
A gain indicates that the USD weakened against the base currency in the pair, and a loss indicates that the USD strengthened against the base currency.
|Pair||Currencies included||Gain or loss|
|CHF/USD||Swiss franc/US dollar||+6.0%|
|EUR/USD||Euro/ US dollar Euro||+5.0%|
|JPY/USD||Japanese yen/ US dollar||+2.6%|
|AUD/USD||Australian dollar/US dollar||+1.7%|
|HKD/USD||Hong Kong dollar/ US dollar||+0.5%|
|GBP/USD||British pound/ US dollar||-1.3%|
|NZD/USD||New Zealand dollar/ US dollar||-1.6%|
|CAD/USD||Canadian dollar/ US dollar||-3.1%|
|KRW/USD||South Korean won/ US dollar||-3.1%|
|MXN/USD||Mexican peso/ US dollar||-15.0%|
How coronavirus has impacted the forex market
The full impact of the coronavirus on forex still remains to be seen. Commodity currencies like the Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar and Canadian dollar all felt the effect of early lockdowns and reduced demand for minerals, oil and other commodities upon which the strength of these currencies rely heavily.
But, certain ‘safe-haven’ currencies like CHF, EUR and the Japanese yen (JPY) have all strengthened relative to the dollar during the coronavirus, which is interesting to note.
Some put this down to the fact that the virus has had a significant impact in the US, which was leading the world in terms of confirmed cases and deaths at the time of writing (14 September 2020).
But, the fact remains that aside from USD, these currencies – CHF, EUR and JPY – are all considered safe havens in their own right. So, they might just be considered a stronger store of value during the pandemic than USD, which as the world’s unofficial reserve currency tends to be more susceptible to fluctuations. This has caused USD to weaken in these pairs.
What will be interesting going forward is the level of fiscal stimulus that central banks deem necessary to implement – especially in the face of a second wave.
The outlook for forex is mixed, and the prospects for each pair will depend on how quickly life and economic activity returns to normal. Plus, the outlook for the forex market in general is hard to gauge because as one currency in a pair strengthens, the other will weaken – meaning that each pair needs to be looked at on an individual basis.
It’s worth stating that with recessions largely in effect around the world, including the US and UK, currencies could experience a decline looking ahead into the latter months of 2020 and beyond. You should keep an eye on interest rates – particularly in the US – over the coming months as central banks take steps to offset the effects of recessions.
Lower interest rates indicate that a currency might lose value, while higher interest rates indicate that it might gain in value – relative to other currencies that it’s paired with.
How can you take advantage of volatility in the forex market?
- Create or log in to your trading account
- Search for the currency pair you want to trade
- Choose your position size
- Select ‘buy’ to go long or ‘sell’ to go short
- Confirm your trade and monitor your position
You can take advantage of volatility in the forex market by trading forex pairs that stand to either gain or fall during the pandemic.
If a pair stands to gain – meaning the quote will weaken relative to the base – you’ll want to go long.
If a pair stands to fall – meaning the quote will strengthen against the base – you’ll want to go short. Financial derivatives like spread bets and CFDs are useful products to use to go long or short because they let you speculate on an asset’s price movements without having to own the asset directly.
We’re the world’s No.1 spread bet and CFD provider1, with educational resources like IG Academy to help you learn all about the markets. Plus, our expert support is here for you 24 hours a day2, and our award-winning platform is available on desktop and mobile, so you can trade wherever you are, whenever you want.3
Create an account to trade forex today. You’ll be able to go long or short, and trade 24 hours a day – with high liquidity and constant opportunities on a wide range of forex pairs.
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1Based on revenue excluding FX (published financial statements, October 2021).
2Excludes the hours from 10pm Friday to 8am Saturday (UK time).
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