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FOREX-Dollar drops for third day on U.S. stimulus optimism
Published at 21/01/2021 at 16:08

* U.S. stimulus-driven hopes weigh on dollar

* Norwegian crown rises as Norges Bank plans 2022 rate hike

* Bitcoin slumps as investors fear tighter regulation under Biden

* Sterling at fresh 2-1/2-year high vs dollar

* Graphic: World FX rates

(Recasts, adds new comment, ECB's Lagarde comments, FX table, updates prices, changes byline, dateline; previous LONDON)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The dollar fell for a third straight session on Thursday, with investors seeking out higher-yielding currencies, as a slew of better-than-expected U.S. data and continued optimism about a massive stimulus package spurred hopes of a recovery in the world's largest economy.

The euro, on the other hand, gained versus an overall weak dollar, even as European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned about a renewed surge in COVID-19 infections and the prospect of prolonged restrictions that could challenge the region's economic outlook.

The ECB, which kept interest rates steady on Thursday, also pledged to provide more support for the economy if needed.

The FX market showed little reaction to Lagarde's comments, as market participants continued to focus on what seemed like an improving global economic outlook and a nearly $2 trillion U.S stimulus package proposed by new Democratic President Joe Biden's administration.

On Thursday, U.S. data showed an economy slowly getting some traction, with slightly better-than-expected initial jobless claims, upbeat housing starts data, and a higher factory index for the mid-Atlantic region.

"We had some good U.S. data this morning and we're also hearing relatively positive, or maybe even borderline hawkish comments from global central bank officials," said Erik Nelson, macro strategist at Wells Fargo in New York.

Nelson cited a Bloomberg interview of Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, who said there may be less need for the current pace of quantitative easing.

Norway's central bank also struck a hawkish tone on Thursday. The bank said it plans to raise rates early next year as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. That pushed the Norwegian crown higher versus the dollar, trading up 0.9% at 8.8045 .

In midmorning trading, the dollar index fell 0.3% to 90.11, after touching a nearly one-month high of 90.956 on Monday.

The euro gained 0.5% against the dollar to $1.2159 , rising as well versus the yen to 125.89 yen .

The greenback also dropped versus currencies tied to commodity prices such as the Australian , Canadian , and New Zealand dollars .

Sterling also set a fresh 2-1/2-year high against the dollar and a new eight-month peak against the euro on hopes Britain's brisk pace of COVID-19 vaccinations would lead to a relatively quicker rebound in economic growth.

Many analysts expect the dollar to continue its downtrend trend, which saw it lose nearly 7% in 2020 amid ultra-loose U.S. monetary policy and hopes for a post-pandemic global recovery.

The dollar typically loses out against its major peers when investors are inclined to take on more risk.

That said, Wells Fargo's Nelson thinks the dollar is due for a reversal from its current weak trend in the coming weeks.

"There is an underappreciation of how difficult it would be for Biden to come in and have another $2 to $3 trillion out there in spending approved," Nelson said.

In the cryptocurrency market, bitcoin slumped 11% on Thursday , retreating further from record highs, with traders citing fears of tighter U.S. regulation.

========================================================

Currency bid prices at 10:46AM (1546 GMT)

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

Previous Change

Session

Dollar index 90.0700 90.4100 -0.36% +0.00% +90.4540 +90.0430

Euro/Dollar $1.2164 $1.2106 +0.48% -0.44% +$1.2174 +$1.2106

Dollar/Yen 103.4750 103.5500 -0.06% +0.19% +103.6600 +103.3500

Euro/Yen 125.86 125.33 +0.42% -0.84% +125.9600 +125.3300

Dollar/Swiss 0.8852 0.8898 -0.53% +0.05% +0.8899 +0.8849

Sterling/Dollar $1.3735 $1.3660 +0.56% +0.55% +$1.3745 +$1.3656

Dollar/Canadian 1.2619 1.2635 -0.13% -0.90% +1.2635 +1.2591

Aussie/Dollar $0.7769 $0.7747 +0.28% +0.99% +$0.7782 +$0.7746

Euro/Swiss 1.0766 1.0768 -0.02% -0.38% +1.0786 +1.0757

Euro/Sterling 0.8855 0.8864 -0.10% -0.92% +0.8872 +0.8831

NZ $0.7202 $0.7170 +0.40% +0.25% +$0.7222 +$0.7173

Dollar/Dollar

Dollar/Norway 8.4110 8.4900 -0.96% -2.08% +8.4865 +8.4085

Euro/Norway 10.2310 10.2810 -0.49% -2.25% +10.2920 +10.2275

Dollar/Sweden 8.2777 8.3383 -0.37% +0.99% +8.3530 +8.2651

Euro/Sweden 10.0695 10.1065 -0.37% -0.07% +10.1115 +10.0570

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ World FX rates TAKE A LOOK-U.S. Inauguration Day - Biden to take office as U.S. president

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(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus in London; Editing by Toby Chopra and Jonathan Oatis)

((gertrude.chavez@thomsonreuters.com; 646-301-4122; Reuters Messaging: rm://gertrude.chavez.reuters.com@reuters.net))