January 18, 2019 / 8:03 AM / 6 months ago

FOREX-Dollar set for first weekly rise in 5 weeks on rate gap bets

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The dollar steadied on Friday but was set for its first weekly rise in five weeks as doubts grew on the ability of other major global central banks such as the European Central Bank to start raising interest rates this year.

While the prospect of another Fed rate hike has been virtually ruled out of money markets this year, markets have also whittled down the odds of the ECB raising interest rates on the back of weak economic data, weighing on the single currency.

Money markets are assigning less than a 50 percent probability of an ECB rate hike this year and 80 percent likelihood of a rate hike from the Bank of England.

Against a basket of its rivals, the dollar was broadly steady but was set to rise 0.4 percent on the week, its biggest weekly rise since mid-December.

“For non-dollar currencies to make further gains from these levels, we have to see evidence that other major central banks are preparing to tighten policy,” said Manuel Oliveri, a currency strategist at Credit Agricole in London.

Weaker economic data is also a feature in China. On Friday, China’s statistics bureau revised down its final 2017 gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 6.8 percent from 6.9 percent, after scaling back initial estimates of the industrial and services sector.

Still, despite the weak economic data, market sentiment was slightly boosted on signs of growing optimism in trade talks between China and the United States.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States on Jan. 30 and 31 for the latest round of trade talks aimed at resolving the trade standoff between the world’s two largest economies.

That optimism was evident in the euro/Swiss franc cross which edged higher towards a one-week high at 1.1329 francs per euro.

The pound managed to hold on to most of its overnight gains against the euro as traders wagered on a second referendum vote on Britain’s EU membership.

While Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly rejected a second referendum, a vocal campaign in favour of holding a new vote has drawn the support of some lawmakers.

Sterling was last down about 0.2 percent at 87.90 pence, trading close to a two-month peak of 87.60 scaled overnight. It is set for its biggest weekly gain in more than 15 months. (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by)

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