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FOREX-Stock rally, U.S. stimulus stalemate keep dollar on defensive
Published at 13/08/2020 at 09:31

* Dollar index down 0.2%

* Euro up 0.3%

* Yen recoups losses

* Risk-on sentiment, equity rally dollar bearish - analysts

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - The dollar fell to its lowest in a week against a basket of currencies on Thursday, with analysts pointing to equity market resilience and a stalemate over additional stimulus for the U.S. economy as reasons for its weakness.

The index that measures the dollar against other currencies has traded in a holding pattern around its lowest levels in over two years in recent days, after losing 10% of its value from a peak in March.

On Thursday, it traded 0.2% lower at 93.137 . Against the euro , the dollar fell to $1.1829, adding to a 0.4% decline on Wednesday.

Analysts note recent equity market resilience - despite rising coronavirus cases, a stalemate in U.S. relief package negotiations, and geopolitical tensions - only works against the dollar.

U.S. stocks rallied on Wednesday, despite a stalemate in negotiations on a relief package, with the S&P 500 index of stocks reaching record highs.

"The S&P500 briefly touched record highs yesterday, confirming the ability of equities to quickly shrug off negative drivers to sentiment," said Francesco Pesole, FX strategist at ING. "This remains a key point in favour of the dollar-bearish argument."

Risk-on sentiment benefited the Australian dollar; so did better-than-expected jobs data that eased concerns about a persistent coronavirus outbreak in the Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne.

The Japanese yen recouped some of its losses from the previous day, trading 0.3% higher at 106.62 yen per dollar.

The British pound rose 0.4% to $1.3076.

The onshore yuan briefly rose to a five-month high before steadying at 6.9421 per dollar. U.S. and Chinese officials meet Saturday to review their Phase I trade deal.

President Donald Trump accused congressional Democrats on Wednesday of not wanting to negotiate over a U.S. coronavirus aid package as Republican and Democratic negotiators traded blame for a five-day lapse in talks over relief legislation.

"The question now is whether this will be enough to prompt a slowdown/correction in the stock rally," Pesole said in a note to clients.

"Latest evidence suggests investors may turn a blind eye to the matter, and the balance of risks remains tilted to the downside for the dollar today as well."

The pandemic has taken a particularly heavy toll on the United States, where it has killed more people than in any other country. Millions of U.S. workers have lost jobs, and supplemental federal unemployment benefits expired last month.

Market sentiment has swung between optimism and pessimism, but analysts argue that more stimulus is the most likely outcome because without it the U.S. economic recovery could stall.

(Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo; editing by Larry King)

((Ritvik.Carvalho@thomsonreuters.com; +44 2075429406; Reuters Messaging: ritvik.carvalho.thomsonreuters@reuters.net))