The dollar was little changed in Asian trade on Wednesday, as traders assessed a fierce first debate between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.
In the pivotal debate, marked by Trump’s repeated interruptions in a chaotic encounter, the candidates battled over the president’s leadership on the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and taxes.
The dollar index against a basket of currencies hardly budged at 93.821, after hitting a two-month high last week.
Analysts said neither candidate emerged from the debate with a decisive advantage.
“It’s like as if they are both just insulting each other. There is not much impact on the markets,” Tohru Sasaki, head of Japan market research at J.P.Morgan.
Month- and quarter-end currency flows appeared to hamper the greenback, while better-than-expected U.S. economic data also dented its perceived safe-haven bid.
U.S. consumer confidence rebounded more than expected in September as households’ views of the labour market improved.
China’s yuan held steady even after twin surveys showed strong factory activity growth, which backed recent signs of a rebound in broad sectors of the world’s second-biggest economy.
In the onshore market, the yuan was little changed at 6.8130 against the dollar, while the offshore yuan also steadied at 6.8137 per dollar.
The euro was firm around a one-week high of $1.1746 hit overnight. Against the yen, the single currency changed hands at 124.01 yen, hovering near a two-week high of 124.11 yen.
The dollar advanced a fraction against the Swiss franc at 0.9202 franc, after falling as low as 0.9191 franc overnight.
Against the yen, the greenback was steady at 105.64 yen, a fraction below a two-week high of 105.74 it marked overnight.
Traders also remain focussed on progress made around a U.S. fiscal stimulus packaged to cushion the coronavirus blow.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday she hoped to have a coronavirus aid deal with the White House this week, after speaking with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and making plans for further talks on Wednesday.
Pelosi said on Monday Democratic lawmakers unveiled a new $2.2 trillion fiscal stimulus bill, but in an interview with CNBC, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow made clear that the White House still views the updated figure as too high.
“We believe it is unlikely the stimulus bill progress in its current form. The House Democrats stimulus bill is more than $1 trillion above what key Republican policymakers are willing to consider,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia currency analyst Kim Mundy in a note.
“The U.S. economic recovery is at risk without more fiscal stimulus and as a result, USD is vulnerable to additional upside in the short term.”
Sterling was steady at $1.2867 against the dollar. The British pound initially gained overnight on hopes for a Brexit deal, but retreated after the Bank of England's governor kept the door open for using sub-zero interest rates if needed.
The dollar stepped back against its New Zealand counterpart, but advanced on the Australian peer. The Aussie edged 0.24% lower at $0.7116, apparently taking its lead from falling stocks.
The kiwi rose modestly, last fetching $0.6593 after an ANZ Bank survey showed New Zealand business sentiment improved in September amid growing confidence that the country's coronavirus outbreak is under control.
Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Shri Navaratnam