[TOKYO] The US dollar started off the week on a firmer footing on Monday as fears about Deutshe Bank receded and investors looked ahead to this week's US jobs data, while sterling hit seven-week lows after Britain set a March deadline to begin its exit from the European Union.
Sterling was down 0.4 per cent at US$1.2931 after British Prime Minister Theresa May said that she would trigger the process for the UK to leave the EU by the end of March. It earlier touched US$1.2902, its lowest level since Aug 16.
Ms May on Sunday told the ruling Conservative party's annual conference that she was determined to move on with the process and win the "right deal".
"The sterling low was hit this morning in very low liquidity, and there's still two years to go before anything happens," said Mitsuo Imaizumi, chief currency strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo. "There is still plenty of time for investors to buy back the currency."
Risk sentiment benefited from news that Deutsche Bank was attempting to negotiate a much smaller fine with the US Department of Justice, though no formal settlement has been announced yet.
The DOJ fined Germany's largest bank US$14 billion earlier in September for what it alleged were sales of toxic mortgage-backed securities.
The euro edged down 0.1 per cent to US$1.1231 but remained well above Friday's low of US$1.1153 hit before hopes of a reduced Deutsche settlement pulled it higher.
The US dollar was last up 0.1 per cent at 101.49 yen, holding above last week's low of 100.085 yen, its weakest since Aug 26.
"The US dollar looks firm against the yen after the 100 yen level was repeatedly tested. However, the upside may be blocked near 102.00 yen," wrote Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.
The Bank of Japan's quarterly tankan survey of business sentiment, released early on Monday, showed that Japan's large manufacturers expect the US dollar to average 107.92 yen for the fiscal year through March 2017.
According to Friday's data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Reuters calculations speculators boosted net longs on the US dollar to their highest in six weeks in the week ended Sept 27.
The value of the US dollar's net long position rose to US$9.7 billion from US$6.6 billion previously, the data showed.
A key focus for the US dollar this week will be the US nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, which could cement expectations that the US Federal Reserve is on track to raise interest rates by the end of this year.
The Australian dollar edged down 0.1 per cent to US$0.7652 , ahead of a monthly policy decision on Tuesday by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).
Australia's central bank is widely expected to hold its cash rate at a record low of 1.5 per cent, a Reuters poll of 57 economists found on Friday, following cuts in August and May.