TOKYO: The dollar was firm against the yen on Friday as growing optimism of progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks supported broader appetite for risk.
A Wall Street Journal report on Thursday that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had considered easing tariff imposed on Chinese imports lifted sentiment though a Treasury spokesman later denied the report.
Against the yen, the dollar tacked on 0.1 percent to 109.35 yen for its fourth day of gains against the Japanese currency and just off a two-week high of 109.40 touched overnight.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, was largely flat at 96.056 after briefly rising to a near two-week high of 96.264 during the previous session.
The index, which has been hobbled since late last year by the Federal Reserve’s cautious stance on delivering further rate hikes, has managed to rebound about 1 percent from a three-month low of 95.029 touched just over a week ago.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States on Jan. 30 and 31 for the latest round of trade talks aimed at resolving the trade standoff between the world’s two largest economies.
The dollar held firm against the euro, while the pound was steady after rising overnight on hopes of a second referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union following Prime Minister Theresa May’s crushing defeat in the parliament of her Brexit deal.
Over the next week, analysts said they expect focus will move to Thursday’s release of January business activity figures for the eurozone, including French data, that will offer some clues on the health of the economic bloc.
French business activity plunged unexpectedly into contraction last month, retreating at the fastest pace in over four years in the face of violent protests against the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
The single currency was up less than a tenth of a percent, last changing hands at $1.1397.
The pound managed to hold onto most of its overnight gains against the euro as traders wagered on a second referendum vote on Britain’s EU membership.
While May has repeatedly rejected a second referendum, a vocal campaign in favour of holding a new vote has drawn the support of some lawmakers.
Sterling was last down about 0.1 percent at 87.82 pence, trading close to a two-month peak of 87.60 scaled overnight. It edged down to $1.2972 but was not far off a two-month high of $1.3001