Dollar gains after week of losses on U.S. stimulus, Brexit fears

(Reuters) - The dollar rose on Friday from 2-1/2-year lows as doubts about an agreement on U.S. COVID-19 aid and Brexit trade negotiations deflated investor confidence.

FILE PHOTO: A picture illustration shows U.S. 100 dollar bank notes taken in Tokyo August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

The U.S. Congress looked increasingly unlikely on Friday to meet a deadline to agree on $900 billion in fresh COVID-19 aid and instead may pass a third stopgap spending bill to keep the government from shutting down at midnight.

The European Union, also on Friday, said there were just hours left to strike a Brexit trade deal while Britain called on the bloc to see sense as the two sides race to prevent a turbulent finale to the Brexit crisis at the end of the month.

Brexit “is a major risk item that is not being resolved,” said Juan Perez, senior foreign exchange trader and strategist at Tempus Inc. “That ruins the whole global stability narrative and that helps the dollar,” Perez said.

The lack of a U.S. stimulus resolution and mounting global COVID-19 deaths are also fueling the flight to safe-haven assets, Perez said.

The dollar index gained 0.21% to 90.0190, after dropping to 89.822 on Thursday.

Wall Street retreated from record highs on Friday as a coronavirus stimulus deal remained in focus ahead of a weekend deadline, while Tesla shares hit a lifetime high in anticipation of their addition to the S&P 500 next week.

As U.S. stimulus talks dragged on, Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming chief economic adviser said on Friday a coronavirus relief plan under negotiation in Congress should not include a provision that would restrict the ability of the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to fight economic crises.

“As we navigate through an unprecedented economic crisis, it is in the interests of the American people to maintain the Fed’s ability to respond quickly and forcefully,” Brian Deese, who will head the White House National Economic Council for Biden, said in a statement.

Biden’s transition team has met resistance to its requests for information from some officials in the Department of Defense, an official on Biden’s team said on Friday.

“We were concerned to learn this week about an abrupt halt in the already limited cooperation there,” Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of Biden’s transition team, told reporters in a call, adding that he expects the Department of Defense to reverse the decision.

The pound, down 0.60% to $1.3505, pulled back from a 2-1/2-year high against the dollar and a 2-1/2-week high against the euro as the Brexit talks continued.

The euro was down 0.25% at $1.2240 against the dollar and up 0.33% against the pound at 0.9060.

Investors remain focused on Bitcoin, which last traded around $22,732.78, down 0.24% after rocketing to its highest-ever level on Thursday.

The 2020 rally has also been driven by increasing expectations it will become a mainstream payment method, with PayPal opening its network to cryptocurrencies.

Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; editing by Jonathan Oatis