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CURRENCIES

US dollar set for biggest weekly drop in a month

London

THE US dollar slipped to a one-week low against its rivals on Thursday as upbeat US and European economic data sharpened risk appetite, with hopes for a Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough also helping sentiment.

Against a basket of currencies, the greenback is on track for its biggest weekly drop in a month of 0.5 per cent, with the rise in coronavirus cases in the US weighing on sentiment.

Data due at 1230 GMT is expected to show non-farm payrolls figures increased by three million jobs last month before a long holiday weekend. US markets are shut on Friday.

A larger than expected gain could help the US dollar regain some ground.

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Estimates vary widely amid concerns about whether the US economy can sustain its recovery as coronavirus infections surge and some states reimpose limits on business and personal activity.

"A renewed significant fall in the unemployment rate would make the market feel confident about a recovery," said Thu Lan Nguyen, an FX strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

"In that case we would see risk-on, which should theoretically be negative for the US currency since the US dollar has been in demand as a safe haven during the crisis."

Despite the US dollar's recent spell of weakness, the greenback is still up 2.5 per cent from the 2020 low of 94.6 it hit in early March. A Reuters poll predicts more weakness for the greenback over the next 12 months due to weak global demand.

Supporting sentiment in the meantime was news that a Covid-19 vaccine developed by German biotech firm BioNTech and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had shown potential in early-stage human trials.

US manufacturing activity also rebounded more than expected in June, with the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing activity index hitting its highest in 14 months.

Similar surveys from China, Germany and France all pointed to an improvement in factory activity.

The positive risk sentiment boosted other risk-oriented currencies such as the New Zealand dollar, which gained nearly 0.5 per cent versus the greenback, and the euro, which advanced 0.1 per cent to US$1.1264.

The mood also lifted sterling above US$1.25 for the first time in a week. It last sat at US$1.2482, having bounced almost 2 per cent from a one-month low hit on Monday.

Falling volatility also boosted sentiment, with a gauge of currency market volatility holding near a one-month low. REUTERS

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