By Kevin Buckland
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar found support as concerns about surging COVID-19 cases and uncertainty about U.S. runoff elections in Georgia fueled demand for safer assets.
The greenback held gains from overnight in early Asian trading on Tuesday after U.S. stocks retreated from record highs at the start of the new year.
The British pound was under pressure as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a nationwide lockdown to try and slow a fast-spreading coronavirus variant.
Sterling was little changed at $1.3572 early in the Asian session. It slid 0.73% on Monday, the most since Dec. 10, after earlier rising to $1.3703, a level not seen since May 2018.
The dollar index was flat at 89.865 after rebounding Monday from a 2-1/2-year low of 89.415.
"The dollar will continue to trade with the general risk sentiment," said Shinichiro Kadota, senior currency strategist at Barclays (LON:BARC) Capital in Tokyo.
The dollar has seen some buying amid an increase in COVID cases and ahead of key U.S. Senate elections, he said, but ultimately "generally positive risk sentiment should continue this year, and with that dollar continues to weaken against riskier currencies."
The fate of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's agenda, including rewriting the tax code, boosting stimulus and infrastructure spending, hinges firmly on Tuesday's twin Senate races in the battleground state of Georgia that will determine control of the chamber.
The safe-haven Japanese yen was little changed at 103.135 per dollar. It advanced to 102.715 on Monday, the strongest level since March, as Japan's prime minister said the government is considering a state of emergency for Tokyo amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
The euro was steady at $1.22535 after reaching $1.231 on Monday for the first time since April 2018.
Bitcoin traded at $32,860 following a roller-coaster ride to start the new year that took it to a record high of $34,800 on Sunday, followed by a tumble to as low as $27,734 the following session.
Currency bid prices at 9:45AM (045 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Euro/Dollar $1.2254 $1.2252 +0.03% +0.30% +1.2255 +1.2247
Dollar/Yen 103.1250 103.1750 -0.04% -0.15% +103.1750 +103.1350
Euro/Yen 126.37 126.33 +0.03% -0.43% +126.4000 +126.3200
Dollar/Swiss 0.8813 0.8812 +0.03% -0.36% +0.8816 +0.8815
Sterling/Dollar 1.3572 1.3562 +0.10% -0.64% +1.3577 +1.3562
Dollar/Canadian 1.2778 1.2775 +0.03% +0.35% +1.2788 +1.2778
Aussie/Dollar 0.7669 0.7665 +0.08% -0.28% +0.7672 +0.7661
NZ 0.7175 0.7175 +0.06% -0.03% +0.7178 +0.7170
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