July 9, 2018 / 8:29 AM / 2 months ago

FOREX-Yuan strength boosts risk sentiment, euro nears four-week high

* Positive U.S. jobs data on Friday helps mood

* Investors ignore trade tension for now

* Pound rallies through Brexit minister quitting

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) - The Chinese yuan rebounded and the euro rose to its highest since June 14 on Monday as investors bought into riskier assets following favourable U.S. jobs data last week and evidence that trade tensions have not yet dented economic momentum.

Investors appear for now to be ignoring the deepening trade conflict between the United States and China, preferring to focus on decent economic data. Numbers showing a healthy rise in German exports have also buoyed the mood.

Elsewhere the big story was sterling’s resilience in the face of the Brexit minister quitting because of opposition to Prime Minister Theresa May’s newly-agreed plan for life after leaving the European Union. The pound rose to $1.3328 as traders focused on the increased likelihood of a “soft Brexit” in which the UK and EU retain close trade ties.

“Broad risk appetite in the market is firm because of the Chinese currency’s strong gains which is also lifting the Aussie and keeping the dollar weak,” said Manuel Oliveri, an FX strategist at Credit Agricole in London.

The yuan rose half a percent in offshore markets to 6.6292 against the dollar, further away from the lows hit in June - its biggest ever monthly fall.

The Chinese currency gained last week on the back of a stronger midpoint fixing and after data showed China’s foreign exchange reserves rising in June.

Benchmark stock market indices in China also posted smart gains, pulling higher-yielding currencies such as the Australian dollar higher.

The euro rose as much as 0.3 percent to $1.1779, the strongest since June 14 as the dollar suffered broad-based falls.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies fell 0.2 percent to 93.899..

It had lost nearly 0.5 percent on Friday and stooped to 93.921, its lowest since June 14, after closely-watched U.S. wages indicators disappointed the market.

The data showed average U.S. hourly earnings gained five cents, or 0.2 percent in June after increasing 0.3 percent in May. This pointed to moderate inflation pressures that dented expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates a total of four times in 2018.

Nonfarm payrolls did rise by a stronger-than-expected 213,000 in June, Friday’s data also showed.

“U.S. wages did not increase so substantially, so there won’t be a rapid pickup in the pace of long-term interest rate hikes,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

“If U.S. long-term interest rates don’t rise, there is less support for the dollar-yen.”

The dollar was little changed at 110.49 yen after losing 0.2 percent on Friday.

The Australian dollar, which is seen as a proxy for a China-related slowdown because of the country’s dependence on Chinese demand for its exports, rose half a percent to $0.7463. (Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee in LONDON and Shinichi Saoshiro and Daniel Leussink in TOKYO Editing by Keith Weir)

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