Dollar stable, markets torn between upbeat data and virus fears

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index was up 0.27% at 97.686

  
A U.S. five dollar note is seen in this illustration photo June 1, 2017.

A U.S. five dollar note is seen in this illustration photo June 1, 2017.

REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

TOKYO  - The dollar held on to modest gains on Tuesday as upbeat U.S. home sales and Chinese factory data left traders torn between optimism about global growth rebounding and fears a surge in new COVID-19 cases could jeopardise a swift V-shaped recovery.

California and Texas saw record rises in new infections on Monday while in Britain, a reinforced lockdown was imposed in the city of Leicester.

News on the economic front was far better with Wall Street getting a boost from the U.S. housing market quickly recovering in May from a plunge triggered by the pandemic.

A warning from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that the outlook for the world's biggest economy was "extraordinarily uncertain", however, kept investors on their toes. 

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index was up 0.27% at 97.686 while the euro lost 0.3% at $1.1209.

Over the quarter, the European currency staged a 1.7% comeback after falling by a similar margin during the first three months of the year marked by the coronavirus financial market crash.

"Markets are jumpy. Tension remains between economic and virus pickup," said Moh Siong Sim, an FX analyst at the Bank of Singapore.

The safe-haven Swiss franc slipped marginally. The dollar rose 0.1% against the franc to 0.9521 while it was also climbed against the Japanese yen, another currency considered a safe store of value, and last up 0.1% to 107.715 yen.

Earlier the Chinese yuan and the Australian dollar gained slightly after a survey showed China's factory activity expanded at a stronger pace in June, beating expectations of slowdown from last month.

The offshore yuan rose 0.1% to 7.072 per dollar while the Aussie dropped 0.2% to $0.6854.

The market shrugged off news that China's parliament passed national security legislation for Hong Kong. That came after the United States earlier began eliminating Hong Kong's special status under U.S. law. 

"With most of the majors sitting mid-range versus the greenback, the lack of trading winds looks set to continue", wrote Jeffrey Halley, a market analyst at Oanda to his clients.

Worries about a blowout in British public spending kept the pound under pressure.

Sterling traded at $1.2283 after sliding to a one-month low of $1.2252 on Monday on concerns about how Britain's government would pay for its planned infrastructure programme following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's promise to increase spending.

Ongoing concerns about Britain's ability to seal a trade pact with the European Union also weighed.

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus and Tom Westbrook; Editing by Angus MacSwan) ((hideyuki.sano@thomsonreuters.com; +81 3 4563 2768;))

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