December 20, 2019 / 8:51 AM / a month ago

FOREX-Dollar set for best week in a month as sterling nurses losses

* Greenback set for best week in a month

* Pound heads for worst week in over two years

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

By Dhara Ranasinghe

LONDON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The dollar was largely steady against other major currencies on Friday but set for its best week in a month thanks to a stronger tone to economic data.

Sterling, which has taken a beating from renewed concern over a hard Brexit, was set for its worst week in over two years against the greenback. Against the euro, the pound was poised for its largest weekly loss since July 2017.

Trade was generally subdued ahead of the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

A final reading of U.S. economic growth in the third quarter, due out later, was expected to get some attention.

Data this week has fueled expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve is unlikely to cut interest rates again in the near future, bolstering the dollar.

The dollar index was a touch firmer at 97.41. It has recovered almost 0.9% from five-month lows hit last week and is up 0.3% this week, poised for its biggest weekly rise in a month.

“We’ve held a constructive view on the dollar for two years and expect it to hold relatively steady in the first half of next year, then weaken against the euro as we think the Fed will have to cut rates again,” said Piotr Matys, a currency strategist at Rabobank.

The euro was flat at $1.11210, while the dollar was a touch firmer at 109.39 yen.

The Chinese yuan held just on the strong side of the symbolic 7-per-dollar as China’s unveiling of new tariff exemptions on U.S. chemical and oil product imports supported optimism about the Sino-U.S. trade detente.

China kept its lending benchmark rate unchanged on Friday, but markets widely expect further monetary easing in 2020 to arrest an economic slowdown.

Britain’s pound steadied, nursing heavy losses. It was 0.15% firmer at $1.3023 and at 85.40 pence per euro .

More than three years since Britain voted to exit the European Union in a 2016 referendum, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government will leave the political bloc at the end of January and has set Dec. 2020 as a hard deadline to reach a trade agreement, knocking sterling.

Just a week ago the pound had shot up as a resounding win for Johnson’s Conservative Party in a national election boosted hopes that near-term Brexit uncertainty would end.

“The market was always a little bit naive in a way to think that a Tory election win was going to remove the fog of Brexit,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank. “There were obviously some longs in weak hands that got forced out.” (Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook and Stanley White, Editing by William Maclean)

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