NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar was little-changed against a basket of currencies on Monday as investors awaited fresh developments in the 17-month-long U.S.-China trade war, while the pound crept higher on the latest polls ahead of this week’s British election.
Weak Chinese export data dented risk appetite on Monday, while a lack of clarity on whether Washington would impose increased U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods on Dec. 15 if the two countries cannot agree a limited trade deal kept investors from placing large directional bets.
The dollar index .DXY, which measures the greenback against six other major currencies, was down 0.04% on the day.
Against the safe-haven Swiss franc, which tends to draw investors during times of geopolitical or financial stress, the dollar was 0.21% lower.
China’s exports in November shrank for the fourth consecutive month, underscoring persistent pressures on manufacturers from the Sino-U.S. trade war.
A Dec. 15 deadline for the next wave of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods fed caution in global markets, supporting the U.S. dollar against currencies highly sensitive to the trade war such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars.
The Aussie fell 0.1%, while the kiwi slipped 0.14%.
Against the offshore Chinese yuan CNH=D3, the dollar was up 0.17%.
Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday that the Dec. 15 deadline is still in place to impose a new round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese consumer goods, but President Donald Trump likes where trade talks with China are going.
On Monday, China said that it hoped to make a trade deal with the United States as soon as possible.
Investors will also be watching central banks ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank policy meetings this week, even though both are expected to leave policy unchanged.
“Unusually, perhaps, the main event risks are not the central bank meetings due this week or key speaking engagements,” Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto, said in a note.
“Rather, the UK general election and the potential ramping up of U.S. tariffs over next weekend are likely to influence market sentiment more significantly than anything else,” Osborne said.
Sterling hit a seven-month high of $1.3180 against the dollar before paring gains to trade up 0.07% at $1.3146 after fresh polls showed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has extended its lead in opinion polls before Thursday’s election.
The ruling Conservative Party extended its lead over the opposition Labour Party to 14 percentage points, up from 9 a week ago, an opinion poll by Survation showed on Monday.
Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Dan Grebler and Nick Zieminski