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FOREX-Dollar steadies ahead of debate but set for weekly loss on stimulus hopes
Published at 23/10/2020 at 01:50

* U.S. dollar creeps higher in Asia, but on track for poor week

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The dollar took stock at the end of a poor week on Friday, having shed about a cent against the euro and suffered its largest weekly drop against the yen in a month, as investors began to wager on a Biden presidency and big U.S. stimulus.

Daily moves were slight and mostly in the dollar's favour early in the Asia session as traders awaited the final U.S. presidential debate, which begins at 0100 GMT.

Markets could be sensitive to any vote-shifting moments as campaigning hits fever pitch ahead of polling day on Nov. 3.

The dollar has lifted from Wednesday's seven-week low against a basket of currencies , but still sits about 0.8% lower for the week and in the bottom half of a monthslong range.

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 more government borrowing.

The dollar has been sold through the week because the prospect of stimulus has supported investors' mood and their appetite for riskier currencies instead, while underlying caution has also given the safe-haven Japanese yen a boost.

"If we do get through and Biden wins and he pushes on with stimulus, then we're back in to a negative U.S. dollar, risk-on, positive for Aussie and kiwi kind of story," said Westpac currency analyst Imre Speizer.

"But for now there's still a bit of a political risk overhang," he said.

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar inched 0.1% higher early on Friday and is about 0.7% firmer this week, with further gains capped by a growing expectation that the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut rates when it meets in November.

The New Zealand dollar slipped 0.l% Friday after softer-than-expected inflation data, but has gained almost 1% for the week.

The Japanese yen dipped overnight after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there was progress in stimulus talks, but it is about half a percent higher for the week and has ground nearly 3% higher since April.

The euro has gained 0.8% this week, though pulled back overnight as COVID-19 cases surge in Europe.

British, European and U.S. Purchasing Managers' Index figures are due later on Friday.

Sterling slipped overnight 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 reach a trade deal before a transition period ends on Dec. 31.

In offshore trade the Chinese yuan hovered just short of a more than two-year high hit earlier in the week.

Analysts said the debate may not move markets immediately, but that political uncertainty over the election meant for a risky environment.

"There may be verbal fireworks but we expect no material impact on the dollar," said Commonwealth Bank of Australia currency analyst Kim Mundy.

"We continue to see a high risk that the election outcome is delayed or contested," she said, adding to near-term downside risks for the Australian dollar.

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Currency bid prices at 8:19AM (019 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change

Session

Euro/Dollar $1.1795 $1.1819 -0.20% +5.21% +1.1823 +1.1792

Dollar/Yen 104.8450 104.9250 +0.00% -3.39% +104.9300 +104.9300

Euro/Yen 123.66 123.93 -0.22% +1.40% +124.0100 +123.6600

Dollar/Swiss 0.9087 0.9072 +0.18% -6.08% +0.9090 +0.9072

Sterling/Dollar 1.3063 1.3083 -0.13% -1.49% +1.3086 +1.3062

Dollar/Canadian 1.3148 1.3139 +0.08% +1.22% +1.3149 +1.3125

Aussie/Dollar 0.7118 0.7118 +0.01% +1.45% +0.7139 +0.7115

NZ 0.6665 0.6675 -0.13% -0.94% +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)

((tom.westbrook@tr.com; +65 6318 4876;))