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Yen, Swiss franc gain on ebbing trade optimism

London

THE Swiss franc and Japanese yen rose on Monday as investors headed into safer assets, becoming more cautious that progress was being made towards a comprehensive trade deal between the United States and China.

The currencies, both viewed as safe havens, and the US dollar had dropped sharply on Friday as optimism over the trade talks, together with the European Union and Britain restarting Brexit negotiations, encouraged investors into riskier assets.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that Washington and Beijing had reached a "Phase 1" trade deal.

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But on Monday the mood was more cautious in an otherwise quiet start to the week for FX markets.

Analysts said the partial deal between the world's two largest economies appeared to lack substance with limited progress on structural issues such as technology transfers.

Manuel Oliveri, an analyst at Credit Agricole, said the announcements so far did not amount to "a broad-based trade deal" that would justify last week's market optimism.

The yen rose 0.3 per cent on Monday, away from Friday's 2½ month low, and was last at 108.15 per US dollar.

The euro fell 0.2 per cent to US$1.1014 before recovering, while the US dollar rose 0.1 per cent against a basket of currencies to 98.391.

The Swiss franc rallied 0.2 per cent against the euro to 1.0985 francs.

With Tokyo's market closed for a public holiday and a holiday in the United States for Columbus Day, trading volumes will likely remain lighter than usual.

There was also little in the way of new key economic data due on Monday.

Emerging market currencies and those closely linked to broad risk sentiment, such as the Australian dollar and Swedish crown, had rallied at the end of last week.

On Monday most were lower, with the Aussie losing 0.3 per cent to US$0.6770 and the crown weakening 0.3 per cent against the euro to 10.847.

"While the tentative US-China mini deal is non-negative for markets - and in part exceeded the previously low market expectations - it in our view does not offer a durable solution to the trade conflict," ING strategists said in a research note.

Sterling dropped against both the dollar and euro after Britain and the EU stressed over the weekend that there was a long way to go before they could agree a Brexit deal. The pound was last down 0.7 per cent at US$1.2568 but still almost four US cents above its level last Wednesday. Sterling surged late last week after London and Brussels announced "intense" negotiations to try and agree a Brexit deal before Oct 31. REUTERS