FOREX-Dollar firm as virus' spread and stimulus stalemate spur caution


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    * Dollar makes small broad gains early in Asia
    * Sterling steady as Brexit breakthrough hopes support
    * Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

    By Tom Westbrook
    SINGAPORE, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The dollar found support on
Monday, as surging coronavirus cases in Europe and the United
States and a lack of progress toward a U.S. stimulus package put
traders in a cautious mood, although hopes for a Brexit trade
deal held sterling steady.
    Against a basket of currencies  =USD , the greenback traded
between steady and slightly firmer early in the Asia session,
hovering around the middle of a range it has held for months.
    Against the risk-sensitive Australian dollar and New Zealand
dollars, it gained about 0.1%. Sterling  GBP= , however, rose a
tiny bit to $1.3046.
    The United States has recorded its highest ever number of
new COVID-19 cases for two consecutive days, while Italy has
ordered restaurants and bars to shut by 6 p.m. as a fresh wave
of infections sweeps Europe.*:nL1N2HG0I7*:nL1N2HG0E8
    U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that she
expected a White House response on Monday regarding the latest
stimulus spending plan - but there have been few tangible signs
that a long-stalled deal is actually nearer.*:nL1N2HG0EW
    "The combination of receding hopes for a pre-election fiscal
deal and the news on COVID and potentially stricter lockdowns is
enough to take a bite out of the stock market," said Ray
Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank.
    He said a dip in S&P 500 futures  ESc1  had spilled over
into currency markets, where traders are also in a cautious mood
ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 3.
    The safe-haven Japanese yen  JPY=  edged higher to 104.72
per dollar and the euro  EUR=  slipped 0.1% to $1.1848.    
    Analysts reckon that a Joe Biden victory next week,
especially if the Democrats win control of the Senate, would
likely herald a large U.S. stimulus package and weaken the
dollar as the spending improves market sentiment.
    "There's nothing to suggest that Biden's poll gap is
narrowing, but you can expect that the risk tone can become a
bit more cautious as we get closer to next Tuesday," Attrill
said from Sydney.
    "But against that, there is a view that I would concur with,
that if by the middle of next week we have got a clean Biden win
... the short-term reaction to that will be very risk positive
and U.S.-dollar negative."
    The slight dip in the Aussie  AUD=D3  came despite early
support after the announcement of a $6.6 billion all-cash
takeover bid from Coca-Cola European Partners  CCEPC.L  for
local bottler Coca-Cola Amatil  CCL.AX .*:nL1N2HG0SG
    Elsewhere hopes for a breakthrough in the trade-deal
stalemate between Britain and Europe held the pound steady above
$1.30.  GBP/ 
    Over the weekend, Britain's Northern Island minister said
there was a good chance of a trade deal.*:nL1N2HG08T
    Later on Monday, investors will follow a German sentiment
survey at 0900 GMT, following a robust Purchasing Managers'
Index figure last week, and U.S. housing data, due at 1400 GMT.
    China's top leaders chart the country's economic course for
2021-2025 at a key meeting starting on Monday, and may adopt a
lower or more flexible growth target.*:nL4N2HE221
    The yuan  CNH= , which has soared more than 7% since May as
China has led the world's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,
was steady in offshore trade at 6.6631 per dollar.  CNY/ 
    The Malaysian ringgit  MYR=  opened a fraction firmer on
Monday after King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected on Sunday a
request by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for him to declare a
state of emergency.*:nL1N2HG04H
    Currency bid prices at 8:12AM (012 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct     High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                 
 Euro/Dollar       EUR=EBS    $1.1848        $1.1862     -0.12%         +5.68%      +1.1859     +1.1840
 Dollar/Yen        JPY=D3     104.7000       104.8000    +0.00%         -3.51%      +104.7500   +0.0000
 Euro/Yen          EURJPY=    124.04         124.19      -0.12%         +1.71%      +124.2200   +123.9800
 Dollar/Swiss      CHF=EBS    0.9045         0.9040      +0.09%         -6.49%      +0.9051     +0.9048
 Sterling/Dollar   GBP=D3     1.3050         1.3039      +0.09%         -1.60%      +1.3062     +1.3043
 Dollar/Canadian   CAD=D3     1.3144         1.3124      +0.17%         +1.19%      +1.3161     +1.3123
 Aussie/Dollar     AUD=D3     0.7133         0.7137      -0.06%         +1.65%      +0.7142     +0.7116
 NZ                NZD=D3     0.6684         0.6692      -0.10%         -0.65%      +0.6688     +0.6677
All spots  FX= 
Tokyo spots  AFX= 
Europe spots  EFX=  
Volatilities  FXVOL=  
Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ  TKYFX 

 (Reporting by Tom Westbrook; editing by Richard Pullin)
 ((; +65 6318 4876;))

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