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FOREX-Dollar firm after debate, but dragged toward weekly loss by stimulus bets

    * U.S. dollar creeps higher in Asia, but on track for poor
week
    * Yen set for best weekly gain vs dollar in a month
    * Trump edges ahead in betting mkts after final debate
    * Graphic: World FX rates in 2020 tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E

    By Tom Westbrook and Scott Murdoch
    SINGAPORE/HONG KONG, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The dollar inched
higher at the end of a tough week on Friday, having shed almost
a cent against the euro and suffered its largest weekly drop
against the yen in a month, as a measured U.S. presidential
debate left investors in a cautious mood.
    President Donald Trump adopted a more restrained tone than
in the first debate, though exchanges again focused around the
handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and personal slights.

    The dollar ground about 0.1% higher against a basket of
currencies in the Asia session, just clear of Wednesday's
seven-week low, but still leaving it down about 0.7% for the
week and in the bottom half of a months-long range.
    "The market reaction is rather muted in Asian trading hours
but has slightly tilted towards a more conservative sentiment as
seen in the strengthened dollar index," said Gary Ng,
Asia-Pacific economist at Natixis in Hong Kong.
    The safe-haven yen also rose about 0.2% to 104.70 per
dollar, paring some losses made on Thursday after U.S. House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there was progress in stimulus talks.
    The yen is up about 0.7% for the week, its sharpest weekly
rise since mid September, as investors who expect turbulent
trade around the Nov. 3 election head for some shelter.
    The euro slipped 0.1% to $1.1800 and the Australian
dollar also handed back a small early-morning gain during the
Trump-Biden debate. Both currencies remain more than half a
percent ahead on the dollar over the week.
    "People are just closing out longs ahead of the election
just in case Biden isn't (elected)," said Chris Weston, head of
research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne.
    "We're coming into that eye of the storm now where it takes
a bit of a brave soul to put on new positions ahead of the
election."
    
    BOND MARKET BETS ON STIMULUS
    Persistent hopes that Congress might pass a stimulus package
before the election and confidence that spending follows anyway,
no matter who gets elected, has driven a selloff in the bond
market in anticipation of inflation and government borrowing.

    The dollar has been sold because the prospect of stimulus
has supported investors' mood. A Biden victory, which polls
predict, is seen as more likely to drive further dollar weakness
as he is expected to spend more on coronavirus aid than Trump.
    However betting markets showed a small movement in Trump's
favour in the immediate aftermath of the debate, bookmaker
Ladbrokes said on Twitter on Friday - which helped the dollar to
firm.
    Elsewhere the New Zealand dollar edged down 0.l%
after softer-than-expected inflation data, though it has still
gained almost 1% for the week.    
    British and European Purchasing Managers' Index figures are
due later on Friday and could move markets if they show that a
recent resurgence in coronavirus cases and the reimposition of
some curbs on movement are starting to hurt economically.
    Sterling slipped on Thursday on uncertainty over
Brexit outlook, but it is up 1.2% this week and is clinging on
above $1.30 thanks to hopes that Britain and the European Union
can eventually reach some sort of trade deal.
    The Chinese yuan also held its ground on the
greenback after an official at China's foreign exchange
regulator said it has been more stable than expected, suggesting
authorities are not too worried about its recent rise.

    The yuan has gained about 7.5% since the end of May as China
has led the global coronavirus recovery. It last sat at 6.6828
per dollar in onshore trade, about half a percent shy of a
27-month peak it hit on Wednesday.
    "The 6.6300 levels in the USD/CNH reached on Wednesday may
be a near-term bottom," said OCBC Bank strategist Terence Wu.
    "Nevertheless, this bounce should not impinge on the RMB
trend. This may be an opportunity to re-enter USD/CNH shorts at
6.6800/7000 levels."
    ========================================================
    Currency bid prices at 11:40AM (340 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct     High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                 
                                              Session                                           
 Euro/Dollar                  $1.1801        $1.1819     -0.16%         +5.25%      +1.1823     +1.1787
 Dollar/Yen                   104.7000       104.9250    -0.17%         -3.56%      +104.9300   +104.7400
 Euro/Yen                     123.56         123.93      -0.30%         +1.32%      +124.0100   +123.4200
 Dollar/Swiss                 0.9074         0.9072      +0.03%         -6.22%      +0.9092     +0.9072
 Sterling/Dollar              1.3071         1.3083      -0.08%         -1.44%      +1.3086     +1.3056
 Dollar/Canadian              1.3144         1.3139      +0.04%         +1.18%      +1.3157     +1.3125
 Aussie/Dollar                0.7118         0.7118      +0.01%         +1.45%      +0.7139     +0.7111
 NZ                           0.6664         0.6675      -0.15%         -0.95%      +0.6678     +0.6659
 Dollar/Dollar All spots
Tokyo spots
Europe spots 
Volatilities 
Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ

 (Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri
Navaratnam)
  
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