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FOREX-Dollar rebounds after dismal data, trade talks in focus
Published at 15/02/2019 at 08:31

* Yen gains versus dollar, risk-off mood pervades

* Trade talks eyed by traders

* Euro down 0.2 pct versus greenback

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019

By Tom Finn

LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Safe-haven currencies including the Japanese yen made gains on Friday after dismal U.S. retail sales as the market awaited developments in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

The results of a meeting on Friday between U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and China's President Xi Jinping could be important for foreign exchange investors.

Markets earlier in the week had cheered U.S. President Donald Trump's upbeat assessment of the talks but a lack of progress since then has bred a risk-off mood causing declines in the Australian dollar, a proxy for China risk.

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 do not reach a deal by March 1.

The dollar remained fairly robust, trading up 0.2 percent at

97.1 against a basket of major currencies. It fell on Thursday when poor U.S. retail sales suggested a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018.

"Calling the next move in the dollar is pretty tough right now. The start of the year saw investors move into under-valued risk assets, but right now the mood is shifting towards one of secular stagnation," said Chris Turner, head of foreign exchange strategy at ING.

Any negative news flow out of the trade discussions on Friday could push the dollar back up again, given investor demand for safe-haven assets during times of uncertainty, Turner said.

The euro was 0.2 percent lower at $1.1274.

The single currency is headed for a second week of losses and is down by 1.7 percent year to date thanks to weaker-than-expected euro zone data.

Analysts expect the European Central Bank to keep monetary policy accommodative for the rest of the year, which will most likely keep a lid on the euro.

Elsewhere, sterling was flat at $1.28 after British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a largely symbolic defeat on her Brexit strategy on Thursday.

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.

(Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

((tom.finn@tr.com; +44 2075427508 ; Reuters Messaging: tom.finn.reuters.com@reuters.net))