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US dollar clings to two-month highs


THE US dollar clung to two-month highs on Wednesday as positive US economic data and concerns about a second wave of coronavirus infections in Europe met weak economic indicators.

Eurozone business growth ground to a halt in September, raising fears that fresh restrictions to quell a resurgence in coronavirus infections might put the economic recovery into jeopardy.

In Britain, the economy also lost momentum, a business survey showed, as consumer-facing sectors suffered, notably from the end of a government subsidy to support restaurants.

Commenting on these disappointing indicators, Rupert Thompson, chief investment officer at Kingswood, warned that a swift V-shaped recovery from now on was unlikely.

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"With this decline happening even before the latest tightening of social distancing measures, these numbers highlight the fact that the easiest and strongest part of the economic recovery is now behind us", he said.

Traders in the pound and the euro are also worried that Britain and the European Union will fail to agree a free trade deal, which would cause additional economic strain.

The dollar index, which measures the US dollar against a basket of six major currencies, rose to a high of 94.25, the highest in two months, then limited its gains to around 94.

The US dollar is likely to continue to gain as the coronavirus rattles sentiment in Europe, but uncertainty about this year's US presidential election means it could be prone to more volatile swings.

The euro fell to a two-month low of US$1.1671 in early morning trading, its lowest since July 27, then recouped some losses and was stable against the US dollar at 7.07 pm Wednesday, Singapore time.

The pound fell to US$1.2692, its lowest since late July, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced on Tuesday new restrictions on business activity to combat a second wave of the coronavirus.

Sterling took back some losses in late morning trading and made its way back above US$1.27.

The US dollar was stable against the Swiss franc at 0.9203 after a 0.6 per cent gain from Tuesday, when the dollar was bolstered by data showing US home sales surged to their highest level in nearly 14 years in August.

The Australian dollar fell to a six-week low of US$0.7116. The New Zealand dollar lost 0.56 per cent to US$0.6597. REUTERS

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