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FOREX-Trade woes, EU slowdown push dollar to 2019 high in eight-day rally

Mon, 11th Feb 2019 20:40

* GRAPHIC-World FX rates in 2019: (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments, adds trade news)

By Kate Duguid

NEW YORK, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The dollar on Monday hit a 2019 high in the eighth day of its longest rally in two years, as concerns about a trade deal with China and an economic slowdown in Europe sent investors into the safe-haven currency.

China struck an upbeat note on Monday as trade talks resumed with the United States, but also expressed anger at a U.S. Navy mission through the disputed South China Sea, casting a shadow over the prospect for improved Beijing-Washington ties.

Investors were skeptical that the world's largest economies could reach a deal and instead expect an extension of the March 1 deadline for deciding whether to increase tariffs.

On "the trade process, and the hope that China will buy more U.S. goods, we might see some headlines supportive of a warming in trade talks. But there are also the intellectual property and tech transfer issues and we have not seen any progress on that front and I'm not sure we will this week," said Juan Prada, currency strategist at Barclays in New York.

The United States is expected to keep pressing China on longstanding demands that it reform how it treats U.S. companies' intellectual property.

On Monday afternoon the greenback was headed for an eighth consecutive day of gains, as investors, in a flight to quality assets, piled into the world's most liquid currency. The rally is the longest since February 2017, when the dollar notched a 10-day winning streak.

The dollar move reverberated across currency markets, driving the euro to its lowest since Nov. 14 at $1.1263. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar strengthened to 110.46 .

Soft European data last week also contributed to a buoyant dollar against a weakened single currency. The European Commission sharply cut on Thursday its forecasts for euro zone growth for this year and next, with the bloc's largest economies expected to be held back by global trade tensions and domestic challenges.

Recent strength in the dollar has emerged despite the Federal Reserve striking a cautious tone at its policy meeting in January. The dollar index, a gauge of its value versus six major peers, was 0.43 percent higher at 97.057.

Sterling extended losses, against the stronger dollar but also on Brexit uncertainty, reaching its weakest since Jan. 21 down as much as 0.67 percent on the day to $1.1284.

(Reporting by Kate Duguid and Tom Finn; Editing by David Gregorio)

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