Dollar holds gains as U.S. coronavirus surge dulls risk appetite

Against the euro, the dollar traded at $1.1234 on Friday

  
A U.S. Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo.

A U.S. Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo.

REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

TOKYO - The dollar was hemmed in a narrow range on Friday, supported by safe-haven flows as a resurgence of the coronavirus in the United States discouraged some investors from taking on excessive risk.

The yuan held steady as investors avoided big positions due to worries about diplomatic friction between Washington and Beijing over civil liberties in Hong Kong.

The U.S. economy added more jobs than expected in June, data showed on Thursday, but reaction in the currency market has been muted because another spike in coronavirus infections threatens to once again put the brakes on economic activity.

"New infections in the United States have been on an uptrend since June," said Junichi Ishikawa, senior foreign exchange strategist at IG Securities.

"The market is leaning more toward buying the dollar, particularly against emerging market currencies, because the dollar is considered the safest asset around."

Against the euro, the dollar traded at $1.1234 on Friday.

The dollar held steady at 0.9462 Swiss franc after three straight days of gains.

The British pound traded hands at $1.2463 and stood at 90.15 pence per euro.

The dollar was little changed at 107.52 yen.

A wave of coronavirus infections has prompted the halting of or back-pedalling on plans to reopen economic activity in several U.S. states after months of strict lockdowns.

Officials are also taking steps to curtail activity during the extended Independence Day holiday weekend starting on Friday.

Trading in other Asian currencies on Friday was subdued before the U.S. holiday, but analysts say sentiment favours more gains in the dollar as investors turn cautious.

Relations between the United States and China are also in focus.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation on Thursday that penalised banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement Beijing's new national security law for Hong Kong, raising the chances of further friction between the world's two- largest economies.

The onshore yuan traded at 7.0644, little moved after data showed China's services sector expanded in June at the fastest rate in more than a decade.

The Australian dollar held steady at $0.6929 after data confirmed retail sales rebounded by a record in May.

Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand dollar traded at $0.6518.

(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Sam Holmes and Christopher Cushing) ((stanley.white@tr.com; +81 (0)3 4563 2799; twitter.com/stanleywhite1 ;))

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