October 11, 2019 / 4:56 AM / a month ago

FOREX-Trade deal buzz bolsters yuan, softens dollar and yen

* Dollar softens, yuan hits three-week high on trade hopes

* Brexit breakthrough chance drives sterling up 2% Thursday

* Trump meets Chinese chief negotiator at 1845 GMT

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

By Hideyuki Sano and Tom Westbrook

TOKYO/SINGAPORE, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Hopes of progress in U.S.-China trade talks held down the dollar and lifted riskier currencies on Friday, while optimistic comments from Europe on Brexit boosted the British pound.

The greenback was a little weaker against the yuan and the Australian and New Zealand dollars as well as the euro, though movements were slight as caution tempered enthusiasm for risk.

“All it takes is one tweet, one headline to change the landscape,” analysts at OCBC Bank in Singapore said in an email.

“The current situation points to a heavy USD posture, but given the shifty sentiments, we urge caution in excessively chasing the risk-on trades higher.”

Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators wrapped up a first day of trade talks on Thursday, with U.S. President Donald Trump describing the meetings as “very, very good negotiation with China”.

Business groups, too, expressed optimism the two sides might be able to ease a trade war that has sapped economic growth around the globe.

And a scheduled meeting between Trump and China’s Vice Premier Liu He, the chief Chinese negotiator, at 1845 GMT is seen as a further positive, after the U.S. blacklisting of some Chinese technology firms made for a bumpy lead-in to the talks.

Improved risk appetite pushed the safe-haven yen lower to 108.00 per dollar, its weakest since Oct. 1, and lifted the Chinese yuan to 7.0983 per dollar, its strongest since Sept. 23.

“Investors are ready to celebrate any form of a U.S.-China trade deal, even a limited one,” said FXTM analyst Han Tan.

Against a basket of currencies the greenback was a little softer at 98.655. The Australian dollar rose 0.3% to a two-week high of $0.6782 and the kiwi edged higher to $0.6320.

Also undermining the dollar, data showed on Thursday U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in September and underlying inflation retreated, supporting expectations the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in October.

The euro rose 0.1% to $1.1013.

Sterling was little changed, but at $1.2437 sat just under a two-week high it hit after soaring 2% overnight, its largest daily percentage gain in seven months, driven by hopes for a Brexit resolution.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Thursday a Brexit deal could be clinched by the end of October to allow the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, after what he called a very positive meeting with Boris Johnson.

Ireland is a major factor in the prolonged Brexit impasse, though details of the pair’s discussion or parameters of a possible breakthrough were scarce.

“There is a lot to play for still and the script can change at any moment in Brexit, so it’s tough staying long GBP for any period of time,” said Chris Weston, head of research at brokerage Pepperstone in Melbourne.

“It does feel that ahead of the (British parliament meeting on) 19th October that traders will be buyers of weakness, but it’s risky and, given the implied volatility, I would be keeping my position size to a minimum.” ( Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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