Euro hobbles near Nov lows as dollar takes comfort from Fed outlook, trade hopes
By Olga Cotaga
LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - The euro hovered around its lowest levels for this month on Friday as the dollar held its poise on hopes that the United States and China would be able defuse their damaging tariff war with a preliminary trade deal.
The U.S. currency also gained from data showing the world's biggest economy is on a firm footing, which prompted investors to scale back their rate-cut bets.
U.S. economic growth picked up slightly in the third quarter, data showed on Wednesday, in contrast to other indicators pointing to a slowdown in global activity.
The Federal Reserve also flagged an upbeat outlook amid signs of labour market strength and a possible turnaround in business investment.
That prompted a pullback on rate cut bets for this year and next, with the market now pricing in a 5% chance the Fed will hike rates next month and most expecting it to hold steady. FEDWATCH
Traders will be watching the release of the flash euro zone inflation data at 1000 GMT. Economists polled by Reuters are expecting the year-on-year harmonised index of consumer prices to rise to 0.9% in November from 0.7% in October, which could steer investors toward growth opportunities outside of the United States too.
Still, "any euphoria related to this is likely to be limited," said Thu Lan Nguyen, a currency analyst at Commerzbank, noting that the rise is due to the change in the calculation methodology.
Members of the European Central Bank are discussing the potential for a new definition of the inflation target, which now stands at below, but close to 2%.
The euro was last trading neutral at $1.1009 EUR=EBS, having climbed back from the two-week low of below $1.10 it dropped to this week.
The dollar was flat against the safe-haven Japanese yen at 109.52 JPY=EBS, though very close to breaking another six-month high.
The Chinese yuan -- the most sensitive currency to the trade war -- was also flat and inside recent ranges, as most other major currencies.
Nerves persisted within markets as traders navigated a blizzard of trade war headlines that offered few clues as to when or how a truce might be agreed between Washington and Beijing.
China has vowed to impose "firm countermeasures" after U.S. President Donald Trump's approval of a bill backing Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters on Wednesday, but is yet to indicate whether they would have any bearing on trade talks.
Negotiators between the world two biggest economies have been trying for weeks to hammer out a 'phase 1" trade deal, with markets hoping an agreement could be signed before year-end.
"There seems to be pretty good optimism around the trade talks going on between U.S. and China," said William O'Loughlin, a portfolio manager at Rivkin Securities in Sydney.
"Though as we know that can change on a dime...the rally doesn't feel like a euphoric, super-bullish rally, it does feel like climbing the wall of worry."
Elsewhere, the Swedish crown reached a four-month high versus the euro of 10.51 EURSEK=D3. After months of acute weakness, the Swedish currency started to gain strength last month.
(Reporting by Olga Cotaga; Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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