June 20, 2018 / 7:48 AM / a month ago

FOREX-Dollar catches breath after scaling 11-month peak as trade concerns brew

* China strong midpoint fixing calms investors’ nerves

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

By Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON, June 20 (Reuters) - The dollar paused on Wednesday after hitting a 11-month high in the previous session as investors consolidated bets after a recent rally, though concerns over a widening trade dispute between the United States and China kept sentiment on edge.

Currency markets also heaved a sigh of relief after Beijing signalled its comfort with a stronger currency by fixing its daily midpoint stronger than market expectations.

“Investors are waiting for the next developments on the trade war front but sentiment is still quite nervous,” said Alvin Tan, a currency strategist at Societe Generale in London.

On Wednesday, the dollar was flat against a basket of its rivals at 95.13, slightly below 95.30 hit in the previous session, its highest since mid-July 2017.

Markets also turned their focus to Sintra in Portugal where U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe are all scheduled to speak at a conference on Wednesday.

Emerging currencies won some reprieve, with the Mexican peso slightly stronger on the day along with the Taiwan dollar and the South African rand

“With the risk to trade firmly in place, we don’t look for a material and long lasting rebound in higher beta and emerging market currencies,” ING strategists said in a note.

The euro was down 0.15 percent at $1.1574, shaky after slipping to a two-week low of $1.1528 overnight after Draghi called for a patient approach to European monetary policy.

The Australian dollar, considered sensitive to shifts in sentiment towards China, fell to a 13-month low of $0.7347 on Tuesday before pulling back slightly to $0.7391.

The Swiss franc slipped 0.1 percent to 0.9953 franc per dollar, handing back the previous day’s gains.

Before Thursday’s Bank of England policy decision, the pound struggled near a seven-month low of $1.3151 brushed overnight.

No economists polled by Reuters expect the BoE to raise rates on Thursday, and some are getting cold feet about their forecasts for a rate rise in August, which would be only the central bank’s second increase since the 2008 financial crisis.

Prior to market opening on Wednesday, the People’s Bank of China lowered the midpoint rate by 0.54 percent to 6.4586 per dollar though traders said the daily fixing came in much stronger than their models suggested, an attempt to stabilise sentiment and prevent the yuan from sinking further. (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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