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US$ dips as investors brace for volatile markets, Fed meeting

London

THE euro climbed to a 10-day high on Monday as investors sold the dollar and prepared for volatile markets before US-China trade talks and a Federal Reserve policy decision.

Investors are focused on Wednesday's Fed meeting when policymakers are expected to signal a pause in their tightening cycle and to acknowledge growing risks to the US economy.

That could weigh on the dollar, which has fallen 1 per cent since late December, after enjoying a boost from the Fed's four rate increases in 2018.

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On Monday, the dollar edged down against most major currencies. Traders are awaiting news from US-China talks on Tuesday and Wednesday to see if the world's largest economies can reach a compromise on trade.

"Unless there is a breakdown in negotiations, we suspect the cautiously risk-positive environment can continue - which should favour higher-yielding, under-valued emerging-market currencies against the dollar," said Chris Turner, head of foreign exchange strategy at ING in London.

The dollar index, a gauge of its value versus six major currencies, was lower at 95.798, after falling 0.8 per cent on Friday.

A deal last week to reopen the US government for now after a prolonged shutdown reduced investor demand for the safety of the dollar.

"The general direction for the dollar is still down and markets will be taking cues from the FOMC this week," said Sim Moh Siong, currency strategist at Bank of Singapore. "The Fed will most likely keep rates steady this year, given the state of economic growth outside the US."

The dollar fell 0.1 per cent versus the offshore yuan to 6.7406. The rally in the yuan also fuelled a bounce in the Australian dollar, which gained 0.18 per cent versus the dollar to US$0.7195.

The euro managed to cling to last week's 0.4 per cent gain and traded at US$1.1416 on Monday.

Economic data out of Germany and France has been weaker than expected, and analysts expect the European Central Bank to remain dovish for an extended period.

But traders believe that Europe's slowdown and a dovish ECB are priced into the euro, which has traded in a US$1.12-US$1.16 range over the past three months.

Sterling drifted lower on Monday after posting its biggest weekly rise in more than 15 months last week, as investors consolidated positions before votes in the British parliament on Tuesday aimed at breaking a Brexit deadlock.

Analysts expect sterling to remain volatile. Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, but the British parliament is far from agreeing to the terms of its leaving. REUTERS