* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019
* Yen marginally firmer versus dollar in early Asian trade
By Vatsal Srivastava
SINGAPORE, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The dollar weakened against the yen
on Friday as dismal U.S. retail sales data reinforced expectations
Federal Reserve rates will not rise this year, while investor focus
shifted to trade talks between Washington and Beijing.
Retail sales posted their largest decline since September 2009,
U.S. data showed on Thursday, a sign of weakness in the consumer
sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy.
"Poor retail sales data has reinforced the view that the Fed
will most likely keep rates steady this year," said Nick Twidale,
chief operating officer, Rakuten Securities Australia.
"Dollar/yen is indicative of the risk averse sentiment right
now..I am expecting the yen crosses to appreciate along with the Swiss franc."
The dollar lost about 0.5 percent against the safe-haven yen in
the overnight session and was relatively unchanged in early Asian
trade. The yen rose marginally versus the euro to 124.67, having
gained around 0.2 percent on Thursday.
The Aussie and New Zealand dollars pared earlier gains, losing 0.2
percent to $0.7091 and $0.6819, respectively.
The dollar index , a gauge of its strength versus six major
peers was relatively unchanged at 97.01, after weakening by 0.12
percent in the previous session.
The main focus for the Asian market on Friday remains the outcome
of the high level trade talks between U.S. and China this week.
Markets earlier this week cheered U.S. President Donald Trump's
upbeat assessment of the talks.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the
administration's top two negotiators will meet on Friday with Chinese
President Xi Jinping but that there had been no decision to extend a
March 1 deadline for a deal. Bloomberg had earlier reported that Trump
is considering a six-day extension of the deadline.
U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China are
scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides don't
reach a deal by then, increasing pain and costs in sectors from
consumer electronics to agriculture.
Rakuten's Twidale thinks that any negative newsflow out of the
U.S.-Sino talks could push the dollar back up again, given its
Elsewhere, sterling was down 0.1 percent at $1.2800. Traders
expect the pound to remain volatile in the coming weeks.
British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a defeat on her Brexit
strategy on Thursday that undermined her pledge to European Union
leaders to get her divorce deal approved if they grant her
The United Kingdom is on course to leave the European Union on
March 29 without a deal unless Prime Minister Theresa May can persuade
the bloc to amend the divorce deal she agreed last year.
(Editing by Sam Holmes)
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