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Dollar jumps on worries over U.S.-China trade talks

Kitco News

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar jumped on Monday as concerns grew that the latest round of U.S.-China talks may not yield a deal between the world’s largest economies before the March deadline.

The greenback is headed for an eighth consecutive day of gains, lifted by its safe-haven appeal as investors, worried about the economic fallout from an ongoing trade war and a global economic slowdown, pile into the world’s most liquid currency.

High-level talks in Beijing this week are a leading focus for investors, many of whom see little prospect for a trade deal and instead expect an extension of the March 1 deadline for deciding whether to increase tariffs.

On “the trade process, and the hope that China will buy more U.S. goods, we might see some headlines supportive of a warming in trade talks. But there are also the intellectual property and tech transfer issues and we have not seen any progress on that front and I’m not sure we will this week,” said Juan Prada, currency strategist at Barclays in New York.

The United States is expected to keep pressing China on longstanding demands that it reform how it treats U.S. companies’ intellectual property in order to seal a trade deal that could prevent tariffs from rising on Chinese imports.

Monday morning’s move in the dollar reverberated across currency markets, driving the euro to its lowest since Dec. 14 at $1.127. The dollar strengthened to 110.45 Japanese yen and to $1.286 against the British pound.

Emerging market and China-sensitive currencies such as the Australian dollar are most likely to be affected by the trade news.

“The market was positioned in a more bearish way with respect to the dollar, so we had stronger emerging markets in the past month. This is a retracement of what we have seen from that,” said Prada.

The dollar’s recent strength has emerged despite the Federal Reserve striking a cautious tone at its policy meeting in January.

“The U.S. currency is currently in demand as a safe haven. This is reflected in the fact that the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen – also typical safe-haven currencies – have also been able to appreciate since the start of the month,” said Thu Lan Nguyen, an FX strategist at Commerzbank in Germany.

The dollar index, a gauge of its value versus six major peers, was 0.44 percent higher at 97.067.

China markets reopened on Monday morning after a one-week holiday break, with the dollar last 0.71 percent higher versus the yuan at 6.791.

Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

Reporting by Kate Duguid and Tom Finn; Editing by Dan Grebler

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