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CURRENCIES

Euro perks up to 1-week high on optimistic outlook

London

THE euro climbed to a one-week high against the US dollar on Wednesday as investors grew cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the single currency before the signing of a US-China trade deal.

While the formal agreement will signal an end to months of tit-for-tat tariff hikes between the world's two biggest economies that have hurt global growth, investors were cautious about buying riskier currencies broadly across the board.

"Markets are getting optimistic that the trade agreement will be a catalyst for further gains in currencies, but the devil is in the details," said Thu Lan Nguyen, a FX strategist at Commerzbank based in Frankfurt.

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While major currencies spent most of the early London session pinned in tiny ranges, the euro edged 0.2 per cent higher at US$1.1148, its highest level since Jan 9.

One trader said the euro's rise was also due to buying by a sovereign wealth fund.

The euro's rise dragged the US dollar lower, with the greenback slipping 0.1 per cent to 97.28.

Still, some investors don't think the formal agreement will end the trade dispute.

Neil Mellor, a senior FX strategist at BNY Mellon in London, said: "I don't think the market is fully convinced about a closure on the trade conflict front, as the issue has caused a lot of damage to the world economy."

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said existing tariffs on Chinese goods would stay, pending further talks.

US President Donald Trump is slated to sign the Phase 1 trade agreement with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He at the White House at 1630 GMT (12.30am Thursday in Singapore).

The Swiss franc reversed most of its earlier gains against the euro with the currency trading flat at 1.0764 francs per euro.

The franc had hit its strongest level against the euro in almost three years on Tuesday after the United States added Switzerland to its watchlist of currency manipulators.

Analysts said the inclusion could discourage the Swiss National Bank (SNB) from intervening to try to limit further appreciation of the franc, although the Swiss finance ministry said it would have no immediate consequences.

Elsewhere, the Swedish crown weakened against the greenback after latest inflation in Sweden held at 1.7 per cent in December, supporting the central bank's forecast that rates would remain unchanged for the foreseeable future after it raised rates a quarter-point, to zero per cent, at its most recent meeting. REUTERS