August 24, 2018 / 11:46 AM / 4 months ago

FOREX-Dollar falls ahead of Powell speech

* Fed chair Powell’s speech due at 1400GMT

* U.S.-China tariff talks end with little progress

* Treasurer Morrison to become Australia’s next prime minister

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh (Adds quote, updates prices)

By Tom Finn

LONDON, Aug 24 (Reuters) - The dollar fell on Friday ahead of a speech by the Federal Reserve’s chairman which investors hope will provide an indication of the central bank’s plans for monetary tightening and reaction to recent criticism by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The greenback has been buoyed by a new round of tariffs in the escalating U.S.-China trade conflict and the Fed’s latest policy meeting minutes which signalled a September interest rate rise.

But the currency slipped on Friday and was headed for its biggest weekly decline since March.

Growing U.S. political uncertainty, reinforced by the legal woes of two of Trump’s ex-advisors this week, has kept the dollar under pressure, despite the United States embarking on greater monetary tightening than elsewhere.

“In the current state of the U.S. political system that is dominated by doubts in the system of checks and balances, remnants of U.S. dollar negativity remain,” said Commerzbank currencies strategist Ulrich Leuchtmann.

The dollar weakened on Monday after Trump said he was “not thrilled” with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s rate hikes and that the U.S. central bank should do more to help him to boost the economy.

U.S. presidents rarely criticize the Fed, whose independence is considered important for economic stability.

Investors are focusing on a speech by Powell to be held later on Friday at an annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“Powell’s speech is likely to reiterate the Fed will keep its tightening agenda until the U.S. economy shows slowing tendencies or the market forces the Fed to rethink,” said Hans Redeker, global head of currency strategy at Morgan Stanley in London.

“If markets conclude that the Fed may increase rates further, that will keep the dollar strong,” he said.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback’s performance against six major currencies, was down 0.3 percent, trading at 95.360 at GMT 1110.

U.S. and Chinese officials ended two days of trade talks on Thursday without any major breakthroughs.

The discussions ended as a new round of U.S. tariffs kicked in on $16 billion worth of imports from China, followed immediately by reciprocal tariffs from Beijing.

As a safe haven currency, the dollar has benefited from fears of international trade turmoil in recent months.

With the dollar down, the euro jumped 0.4 percent to $1.1587, recouping some losses after shedding more than half a percent during the previous session.

The single currency weakened on Thursday after Italian deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio threatened his party would vote to suspend funding to the European Union next year unless other EU countries agreed to take in migrants.

In quiet markets, the largest mover among the major currencies was the Australian dollar which gained half a percent on Friday, after the ruling Liberal party voted in a new leader.

The Aussie dollar tumbled 1.4 percent on Thursday to become the worst performing G10 currency, after hitting its lowest since January 2017 of A$0.7202 last week, as the country was gripped by political uncertainty. (Editing by Toby Chopra)

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