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Dollar rises broadly, tops 110 yen as risk appetite rebounds

Matt Cardy | Getty Images

The U.S. dollar strengthened across the board on Monday, as investors took heart from Friday's strong payrolls number and improved risk appetite helped lift the greenback to a five-week high against the safe-haven yen.

The euro weakened as investors fretted over economic risks to the euro zone economy, while concerns about Britain's plan to leave the European Union dragged the pound lower.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus the euro, yen, British pound and three other currencies, was up 0.26 percent at 95.83.

"The dollar is winning the reverse beauty contest," said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.

"It's supported in a declining yield landscape by better-than-expected non-farm payroll and you are seeing a little bit of that risk appetite returning," he said.

A U.S. Labor Department report on Friday showed non-farm payrolls jumped by 304,000 jobs last month, exceeding forecasts and the largest gain since February 2018. ISM manufacturing activity numbers for January were also better than expected, pointing to underlying strength in the world's biggest economy.

"Last Friday's strong payroll number is helping to support the dollar bulls course of action as U.S. growth remains quite strong," Dean Popplewell, chief currency strategist at Oanda said in a note.

Dollar sentiment has undergone a U-turn in recent days with weak European data and expanding stimulus in China boosting demand for the greenback, despite indications from the U.S. Federal Reserve that interest rate increases may be over for now.

With much of Asia closed by holidays this week, the dollar also took heart from recently concluded trade talks between China and the United States.

Against the Japanese , which tends to benefit during geopolitical or financial stress as Japan is the world's biggest creditor nation, the dollar briefly rose above 110 yen, for the first time since Dec. 31.

"It does suggest that we were seeing a sort of a false dawn in the Japanese economy, that growth expectations may have gotten ratcheted a little too high especially relative to what we are seeing in the United States," said Schamotta.

Sterling rose after a newspaper report said that goods shipped to Britain from the European Union could be waved through without checks in the event of a "no-deal" Brexit, before giving up all those gains to trade 0.34 percent lower against the dollar. Worries among investors about a disorderly 'no-deal' Brexit remains the top driver for the British currency.

The Canadian dollar weakened against its U.S. counterpart, reversing some of last week's rally, as oil prices fell and the greenback broadly climbed.