LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar was broadly steady on Monday as global markets started the week in a cautious mood, while currency market focus started shifting towards key U.S. payrolls data on Friday.
Some analysts attributed the lack of momentum during Asian trading to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the region, as Australia’s most populous city, Sydney, went into lockdown.
Indonesia is battling record-high cases while a lockdown in Malaysia is set to be extended. Thailand too announced new restrictions in Bangkok and other provinces.
But the Australian dollar, which is seen as a liquid proxy for risk appetite, was up around 0.1% on the day at $0.75935 at 0737 GMT.
The U.S. dollar index was little changed at around 91.718. Last week, it dropped 0.5%.
The New Zealand dollar was up 0.2% at $0.708.
Softer-than-expected inflation data last week did little to ease concerns about the U.S. Federal Reserve dialling down its monetary stimulus.
The U.S. personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, excluding the volatile food and energy components, increased 0.5%, short of expectations for a 0.6% rise.
Speculators decreased their net short dollar positions in the latest week, according to calculations by Reuters and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday.
Among a raft of economic indicators this week, Friday’s payroll data is a key focus - with economists expecting an increase of 675,000 jobs.
Noting a lack of volatility in currency markets, ING strategists wrote in a note to clients that “it will probably take a jobs number closer to the one million mark to shake up the US rates curve and FX markets once again.”
News of a bipartisan U.S. infrastructure agreement helped risk appetite. The infrastructure plan is valued at $1.2 trillion over eight years, of which $579 billion is new spending.
The euro was up around 0.1% against the dollar at $1.1941, while euro-dollar implied volatility gauges with a one-year maturity were close to their lowest since March 2020.
The euro strengthened slightly versus the Norwegian crown, with the pair at 10.1376.
The Canadian dollar was down 0.1% against the U.S. dollar at 1.2292.
Oil prices slipped slightly after earlier climbing to their highest since October 2018 on expectations demand growth will outstrip supply and OPEC will be cautious in returning more crude to the market from August. OPEC meets on Thursday.
“Our view is that long-CAD is a better route than long-NOK for expressing a bullish view on oil prices using the FX market,” Stephen Gallo, European head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients.
The British pound was up 0.4% against the U.S. dollar at $1.3925. Speculators reduced their net long position on the pound versus the dollar to a 20-week low.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was up 1.5% at around $35,100. It showed no reaction to Britain’s financial regulator saying that Binance (one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges) cannot conduct any regulated activity and issuing a warning to consumers about the platform.
Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Catherine Evans