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US dollar edges up ahead of Trump's trade speech


THE US dollar was stronger against the yen and Swiss franc on Tuesday as traders grew optimistic ahead of a speech by US President Donald Trump, in which he is expected to delay a tariff decision on European carmakers by six months.

Mr Trump's speech to the Economic Club of New York is expected to be market-moving as he is scheduled to discuss US trade policy. Currency traders will be listening for hints about the Trump administration's long-running trade war with China, and any progress towards the "phase one" trade deal.

"The market has obviously been quite wary about whether a phase one deal is on or not - a lot of hopes are being placed on this speech one way or another," said Jane Foley, senior forex strategist at Rabobank.

"We just don't know which way he's going to go," she said, as Mr Trump can be "very impulsive" and therefore difficult to predict.

"I suspect that he will provide just enough encouragement to indicate that there is reason to be hopeful, without probably saying that it's a done deal," Ms Foley said.

Versus a basket of currencies, the global US dollar index rose 0.2 per cent.

The US dollar strengthened against safe haven currencies: it was up 0.1 per cent against both the Japanese yen and 0.3 per cent versus Swiss franc in early London trading.

Adam Cole, chief currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets said the expectation that the review of tariffs on European automakers will be postponed by six months was behind the risk-on move and is now priced in by markets.

The euro hit four-week lows against the US dollar, down as much as 0.2 per cent at US$1.10110.

The New Zealand dollar was down 0.5 per cent at 0.6334 versus the US dollar, barely recovered from the low of US$0.6323 it reached last week after a central bank survey showed the country's near-term inflation expectations dropped, increasing traders' expectations of a rate cut this week.

The offshore Chinese yuan was flat against the US dollar at around seven, a threshold it crossed for the first time in August. The yuan weakened on political unrest in Hong Kong, as well as because of weak economic data in mainland China.

In Hong Kong, riot police fired tear gas at a university campus on Tuesday, a day after a protester was shot and a man set on fire in some of the most dramatic unrest to rock the Chinese-ruled city in more than five months.

The Chinese foreign ministry said that stopping the violence is the most important thing and that the United States, Britain and other countries should not interfere. REUTERS

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