Dollar falters as safe-haven bid dims on Brexit, trade deal optimism

A man counts U.S. dollars in Tehran
FILE PHOTO: A man counts U.S. dollars in Tehran, Iran July 7, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/ WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

October 10, 2019

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar slid to two-week lows on Thursday, with safe-haven demand for the currency waning as investors grew optimistic about progress toward a U.S.-China trade deal and agreement on Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Sterling jumped to a two-week high versus the dollar and posted its largest daily percentage gain in seven months on hopes of a Brexit resolution. The pound was last up 1.9% at $1.2447 <GBP=>.

“With a Brexit deal looking more likely and U.S.-China talks showing more progress, it’s just clear that the dollar is losing some safe-haven demand,” said Juan Perez, senior currency trader, at Tempus Inc in Washington.

On Thursday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said a Brexit deal could be clinched by the end of October to allow the United Kingdom to leave the European Union in an orderly fashion, after what he called a very positive meeting with Boris Johnson. Ireland is a major factor in the prolonged Brexit impasse.

“Once again, as the door for further discussions seemed to be closing, the glimmer of hope shone a little brighter,” said Tim Riddell, macro strategist, at Westpac in London.

“Whether there is time to create the foundations for any form of agreement into next week’s EU Leader’s Summit so that it can be debated at UK Parliament’s special sitting on the 19th is still a distant hope,” he added.

Investors also voiced hopes that Washington and Beijing could reach a trade agreement.

Graphic: Dollar Drop – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/7172/7103/Dollar%20drop.png

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

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Thursday said China was willing to reach an agreement with the United States on matters both sides care about to prevent further escalation in tensions, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

Liu, China’s top trade negotiator, made his comment in Washington when he met with U.S. officials as trade talks between the two countries started.

In afternoon trading, the dollar index posted its biggest daily drop in five weeks. It last fell 0.4% to 98.70 <.DXY>, after earlier sliding to a two-week trough.

The yen, another safe haven in times of geopolitical and financial stress, also fell to a one-week low against the dollar, weakening as well against riskier currencies such as the Australian dollar.

The dollar was last up 0.4% against the Japanese yen at 107.89 yen <JPY=>.

The euro rose to a two-week high and last changed hands at $1.1004, up 0.3%.

The dollar was little moved after data showed U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in September, while underlying inflation slipped 0.1%. Market bets for a quarter-point U.S. rate cut at the U.S. Federal Reserve’s next policy meeting in October swelled to 85% from 53% a month earlier.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Tom Brown and David Gregorio)