LONDON (Reuters) - The dollar held near a two-week high on Monday, shrugging off concerns about weakening global growth and data that showed China’s economy slowed sharply in 2018.
Going into 2019, weakness in the dollar was a consensus view among currency market traders. The bet was that the U.S. central bank would stop raising interest rates and the economy would slow after a fiscal boost last year.
But the greenback has enjoyed its first weekly gain since mid-December, buoyed by hopes of a thaw in U.S.-China trade tensions and stronger-than-expected U.S. industrial production numbers.
The dollar index, which measures its strength against a group of six major currencies, on Monday was steady at 96.388 .DXY after climbing to 96.394 percent on Friday, its strongest since Jan. 4.
“The U.S. dollar is benefiting from its role as safe currency haven,” said Esther Maria Reichelt, an FX strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
“The Federal Reserve could cushion a weaker economy with monetary policy measures... protecting the U.S. quite well from weakening global growth and making the dollar the currency of choice,” she added.
U.S.-China trade friction has put pressure on China’s economy, with the latest data showing the world’s second-biggest economy slowing further in the last quarter of 2018. Markets appeared to take the outcome, largely in line with expectations, in their stride.
The euro nudged up 0.2 percent to $1.1376 EUR=EBS but remained in close reach of a two-week low of $1.1353 brushed on Friday.
“We think the euro is cornered on the downside. Our overwhelming bias is to use levels north of $1.1400 as selling opportunities to aim for a test below the $1.1300 mark over the coming days,” said Stephen Gallo, BMO’S European currency strategy head.
Later in the week, investors will keep a close eye on Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting to see if policymakers will react to worsening global economic prospects, yet analysts suggested it may be too early for a change in policy direction.
The pound was steady at $1.2873 GBP=D3.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will on Monday put forward a motion on her proposed next steps regarding Brexit. Over the following week, lawmakers will be able to propose alternatives.
The Australian dollar was steady at $0.7155 AUD=D4 after ending Friday on a loss of 0.3 percent.
The Aussie was largely unfazed by China’s growth numbers though analysts agree that any sharp drop in demand from its biggest trading partner would put a dent in local assets.
U.S. financial markets remained closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 - tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
Reporting by Tom Finn; Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Ed Osmond