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The dollar and the euro traded cautiously on Wednesday as investors refrained from taking risky bets a day ahead of a key speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
Against the euro, the dollar stood at $1.1818 following a 0.4% decline in the previous session. The yuan rose toward a seven-month high at $6.8969 after US and Chinese trade officials reaffirmed their commitment to a Phase 1 trade deal, which eased concerns about a diplomatic standoff between the world's two-largest economies.
Amid growing speculation Powell could unveil a softer policy stance towards inflation at the annual Jackson Hole retreat on Thursday, investors are bracing for the Fed's possible new steps to prop up the US economy.
"Either the Chairman drops something juicy for "reflationistas" (aka USD bears) or the USD rips higher for a few weeks", Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp, wrote in a morning note.
"I would never bet against the Fed sounding dovish during an easing cycle", he added.
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The dollar index, which tracks the greenback's value against a basket of currencies was up 0.16% at 93.11 after taking a hit on Tuesday following data showing US consumer confidence tumbling to the lowest in more than six years.
Data later on Wednesday is forecast to show growth in US durable goods orders slowed in July, highlighting policymakers' concerns about the economy.
"A softer-than-expected figure should revive the Fed doves, while a better-than-expected read would improve the investor mood, but should not have a material impact on dovish Fed expectations as it is clear to everyone that the economy needs sustained support for posting good results," Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, told her clients.
The British pound bought $1.3141 having risen 0.7% against the dollar on Tuesday.
Sterling has managed to shrug off a lack of progress in trade negotiations between Britain and the European Union.
The dollar was locked into a narrow range against the yen, last trading at $106.32.
The Australian dollar was little changed at $0.7198 as traders monitored a coronavirus flare-up in the state of Victoria.
The euro bobbed around $1.18 but the pound was at two-week low of $1.3125 and the yuan back-pedalled too after US President Donald Trump warned about "decoupling" the US and Chinese economies.
Risk sentiment was also undermined after Federal Reserve officials expressed concern that rising coronavirus cases could harm economic growth just as stimulus measures start to expire.
The yen hit a six-month high against the dollar on Monday, gaining for a sixth consecutive session against the greenback as stock markets tumbled and pushed investors to the perceived safety of the Japanese currency.
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