January 18, 2019 / 3:40 PM / in 6 months

FOREX-Trade talk hopes poise dollar for first positive week this year

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh (Recasts; adds analyst quote; updates prices; changes byline and dateline from LONDON to NEW YORK)

By Kate Duguid

NEW YORK, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The dollar held firm against its rivals on Friday and was poised for its first weekly gain in five weeks, boosted by optimism about trade talks between China and the United States.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs on Chinese goods and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for Jan. 30, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the internal deliberations.

Although a Treasury spokesman denied the report, the positive sentiment was enough to lift the dollar index and the three major U.S. stock indexes Friday morning.

“Yesterday’s WSJ headline concerning a possible rollback of the Trump tariffs was a setback for (the U.S. dollar/renminbi cross), and although it was subsequently denied, it had created confusion in the foreign exchange space,” said Stephen Gallo, European head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in London.

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

Stronger-than-expected U.S. industrial production numbers also helped lift the greenback. American manufacturing output increased by the most in 10 months in December, pushed up by a surge in the production of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, the Federal Reserve said on Friday.

Going into 2019, weakness in the dollar was a consensus view among currency market traders. The bet was that the U.S. central bank would stop raising interest rates and the economy would slow after a fiscal boost last year. While expectations of a U.S. rate pause have manifested in money markets, bets on policy tightening by other major central banks have also receded, giving a boost to the dollar.

Against a basket of rivals, the dollar was set to rise 0.6 percent on the week, its first positive week since mid-December. Against the euro, the dollar had strengthened 0.25 percent to $1.137, its strongest since Jan. 4.

The pound slipped against the euro, partially trimming overnight gains, as traders wagered on a second referendum vote on Britain’s EU membership.

Reporting by Kate Duguid and Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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