Forex Today: Dollar drives higher on fears, ahead of Retail Sales, Powell

Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, August 17: 

The market mood has soured amid a fresh Chinese techlash, covid fears and uncertainty ahead of US Retail Sales and Fed Chair Powell's speech later in the day. Antipodean currencies are hit hardest while gold benefits from falling yields and cryptos stabilize.

Risk-off: Markets are suffering yet another "hangover" following record highs on the S&P 500 and other US stock indexes. China is moving against "idle culture," a call which is seen as hitting videogames and other activities, as part of its backlash against powerful tech companies. Asian shares are struggling and dragging others lower.

COVD-19 cases continue rising in the US and weigh on the recovery, but the dollar is gaining with safe-haven flows across the board.

Coronavirus is hitting hard antipodean currencies hard. AUD/USD has tumbled below 0.73 after the Reserve Bank of Australia's Meeting Minutes revealed uncertainty about the economy following covid-related lockdowns. 

NZD/USD has tumbled by over 1% and below 0.70 after one coronavirus case in Auckland prompted the government to order a snap three-day nationwide lockdown, with longer restrictions in several regions. 

GBP/USD is sliding toward 1.38 amid dollar strength and amid mostly upbeat jobs report. The UK Unemployment Rate fell to 4.7% in June and wags are up 8.8% YoY. Jobless claims disappointed with a minor 7.8K drop. 

EUR/USD is hovering closer to 1.17 in response to the risk-off mood. Growth is expected to be confirmed at 2% in the second quarter. 

US Retail Sales are forecast to show a minor drop in the overall volume of consumption and a minor rise in core measures in July after robust figures in June. Investors are eyeing the impact of rising inflation and the Delta covid variant on shoppers. 

US Retail Sales Preview: Dollar booster? Low expectations, market mood point to a clear reaction

Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve, is scheduled to speak late in the day and could refer to the timing of the bank's tapering of its bond-buying scheme. Officials at the central bank have been moving to support an announcement as soon as September and both CNBC and the WSJ moved toward such a move. That has also been supporting the greenback. 

Gold has been extending its recovery, hitting $1,792 as returns on US Treasuries dropped, making the yieldless precious metal more attractive. 

Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin is trading below $46,000, off the highs, and Ethereum has stabilized around $3,150. 

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