FOREX-Dollar at 2-month highs on funding deal, trade talks

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar held at atwo-month high and the Australian dollar gained on Tuesday asexpectations of progress in trade talks between the UnitedStates and China and a tentative deal to avoid a U.S. governmentshutdown lifted sentiment.

Trade talks began in Beijing this week after an earlierround ended in Washington last week without a deal, and with thetop U.S. negotiator saying a lot more work needed to be done.

"The dollar is the market's pet currency at presentregardless of whether concerns about the global economy are onthe rise or whether (there are) risks in connection with thetrade conflict between China and the US as well as thegovernment shutdown," currency strategists at Commerzbank saidin a note.

Against a basket of its rivals .DXY , the dollar wasbroadly steady at 96.986, after climbing to its highest levelsince mid-December at 97.117 in the previous session.

Financial markets have been roiled by the trade tensionsover the past year, with global business sentiment taking a hitas factory activity and economic growth suffered.

The dollar's rise in recent days has also been triggered bygrowing caution over the outlook of its major rivals, notablythe euro and the British pound.

Weak European data has hurt sentiment towards the singlecurrency. On Tuesday the euro EUR=EBS held near a 2-1/2 monthlow of $1.1267 hit in the previous session.

Sterling GBP=D3 was broadly steady at $1.2878 before astatement by Prime Minister Theresa May to lawmakers inparliament.

With just weeks to go before Britain leaves the EuropeanUnion on March 29, investors are growing increasingly worriedthat a Brexit deal may not be finalised in time. (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee: Additional reporting by VatsalSrivastava in Singapore; editing by John Stonestreet) ((saikat.chatterjee@thomsonreuters.com; +44-20-7542-1713;Reuters Messaging: saikat.chatterjee.reuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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