Crude prices rose by 6 percent overnight after Saudi Arabia and allies launched air strikes on Yemen, which also pushed equities lower in Europe, the Mid East and Asia. Currencies such as the AUD, CAD and NOK – so called “commodity currencies” – were big winners as WTI crude touched $52 per barrel, up $4 during the session. The latest military operations in the troubled region are targeting Iran-backed rebels surrounding the Yemen city of Aden. The Gulf of Aden is key to oil shipments to Europe.

Although the US dollar is normally a flight to safety in these “risk off” scenarios, the greenback had dropped another 0.8% since Wednesday’s strikes began. As commodities rise, the dollar is on retreat and other safe haven currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc take up the mantle. The USD/JPY rate crashed to its lowest level since February 24, gaining nearly 1% against the dollar. Economic data was limited out of Asia as equities paced world markets following Wednesday’s sharp drop from US bourses, which lost about 1.50%.

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By Guest