Yen surges; dollar steady

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    SYDNEY- The safe-haven Japanese yen sat near a one-week high and a steady US dollar held commodity currencies in check on Wednesday, as worries about rising coronavirus cases tempered optimism around promising vaccine trials.

    At 104.14 per dollar, the yen has recouped more than half of the steep losses it suffered last week after Pfizer announced it had developed a working COVID-19 vaccine.

    Bitcoin, sometimes regarded as a haven asset or at least a hedge against inflation, has surged to a three-year high against the dollar and the risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars were a fraction softer, along with stocks.

    “The slight cooling of equity sentiment has put a cap on currencies,” said Westpac currency analyst Imre Speizer.

    “We know we’ve got a vaccine. Now it’s about distribution and how quickly it can start to make a difference, which is going to be quite a few months away.”

    Before then, a tough winter looms.

    Surging cases have driven record hospitalizations and fresh restrictions on gathering in the United States, while new outbreaks vex authorities in Japan, South Korea and Australia.

    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that there was “a long way to go” to economic recovery.