October 16, 2019 / 1:02 AM / a month ago

Dollar slips as data disappoints; sterling rises

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar fell across the board on Wednesday as dismal U.S. retail sales data painted a gloomy picture of the economy and supported the case for further interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

FILE PHOTO: A money changer counts U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange office in Diyarbakir, Turkey May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar/File Photo

The dollar index .DXY, which measures the U.S. currency against six major currencies, was down 0.30% at 97.998.

U.S. retail sales fell for the first time in seven months in September, suggesting that manufacturing-led weakness could be spreading to the broader economy.

“The U.S. economy is indeed revealing further weaknesses, justifying another rate cut by the Fed,” said Marc-André Fongern, a strategist at MAF Global Forex in Frankfurt.

With two weeks to go until their next policy meeting, U.S. central bankers remain divided about the need to cut borrowing costs for a third time this year.

“Overall, the retail sales figures support our view that economic growth is slowing,” Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

The dollar’s losses were most pronounced against other safe-haven currencies such as the yen and the Swiss franc.

Against the yen, the greenback fell 0.1%, while it slipped 0.39% against the Swiss franc.

Lingering worries about trade tensions between the United States and China have kept investors’ risk appetite in check.

Reports of a partial trade deal between the world’s two largest economies last week initially cheered markets, but a lack of details on the agreement has since curbed any enthusiasm.

“A significant depreciation of the U.S. dollar would only be conceivable in the event of a credible partial deal between the United States and China,” Fongern said.

Increased trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have generally been supportive of the dollar as investors view the United States to be in better shape than its rivals to weather a trade war.

China's onshore spot yuan CNY=CFXS ended the domestic session at 7.1030 per dollar, the weakest such close since Oct. 10, after Beijing criticized new U.S. legislation backing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Elsewhere, the Norwegian crown NOK= weakened to its lowest since July 2001 at 9.119 per dollar. Norway, a major exporter of oil, is particularly sensitive to economic tensions.

Sterling swung around five-month highs amid a blizzard of contradictory headlines about whether Britain and the European Union were on the verge of agreeing a Brexit deal.

A Brexit deal looked close at hand but Prime Minister Boris Johnson still has work to do at home to ensure his government and factious parliament approve the plan.

The pound was last up 0.34% against the greenback.

(Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 - tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Nick Macfie and Nick Zieminski

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