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The Japanese yen and Swiss franc gained only briefly on Thursday as currency traders showed little reaction to a wave of selling across stock markets, although China's offshore yuan hit a 22-month low on worries about an economic slowdown.
The euro recovered from Wednesday's two-month lows, before the European Central Bank's monetary policy meeting.
Despite the downturn by stocks, worries about corporate earnings growth and doubts about the global economy, forex investors only tiptoed into the yen and Swiss franc, two currencies historically bought during downturns.
"To a large extent, until today there had been a lack of reaction in the FX markets. We are starting to see this come through," said Christin Tuxen, FX strategist at Danske Bank.
Relatively small currency swings reflected how recent data had showed a "loss of momentum in global growth", Tuxen said, rather than a risk of recession or something serious enough to spook investors.
The yen rose as high as 111.82 versus the dollar, then retreated in European trading to settle at 112.275, flat on the day.
The Australian dollar, often viewed as a bellwether for global risk, rose 0.2 percent to $0.7074.
However, in a sign that the worries about global growth and particularly in China are beginning to bite, the offshore yuan hit its weakest since the start of January 2017, down 0.3 percent on the day at 6.9668.
Investors will be looking for any new guidance from the ECB at its meeting later on Thursday on a possible slowdown in growth, as well as the row between Brussels and Rome over Italy's budget plans.
The ECB is not expected to offer any surprises. Instead, it will confirm that quantitative easing is on track to end next year.
Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note that after recent falls in the single currency, euro/dollar may face a short squeeze if the ECB was surprisingly bullish.
"The global economy is continuing to face higher inflation and tightening capacity, suggesting that central banks may need to continue tightening even in the face of rising market volatility," they said.
Sterling recovered from six-week lows to $1.2906 after British Prime Minister Theresa May received a show of support from her Conservative Party before the next round of Brexit talks.