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Dollar lower in holiday-thin trade, oil drives loonie, rouble gains

The U.S. dollar has regained some strength in recent weeks.
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The dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies in thin holiday-impacted trading on Monday, while a jump in the price of oil on news that Washington will end sanctions waivers for major Iranian oil importers boosted the Canadian dollar and the Russian rouble.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, was 0.19% lower at 97.28. The index hit a two-week high of 97.485 late last week.

Against the Japanese the dollar was about flat, while the euro was 0.10% higher against the greenback.

Financial markets in Australia, Hong Kong and many major countries in Europe are closed on Monday for the Easter holiday. Currency trading continues globally but volume is expected to be light.

"With much of the market still out on Easter and Passover related holidays there is not a whole lot to chew on to start the week," said Brad Bechtel, global head of FX at Jefferies, in New York.

The greenback has found support in recent weeks on the back of a gradual rise in U.S. 10-year Treasury yields and signs of strength in the world's top economy, including better-than-expected retail sales in March, following a weak start to the year.

Traders will be keenly watching the U.S. GDP report due Friday for further clues on the health of the U.S. economy, analysts said.

On Monday, crude oil prices were the biggest driving force in currency markets, analysts said.

Brent crude topped $74 a barrel on Monday, the highest since November, as the White House said U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to eliminate all waivers issued to eight economies that had allowed them to buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions.

With the jump in the price of oil, one of Canadas major exports, the Canadian dollar rose 0.36% against its U.S. counterpart.

The rouble hit its highest level against the euro since last April and a one month-peak versus the dollar on Monday, driven by the jump in oil prices and local month-end taxes that boost demand for the Russian currency.

Sterling was a shade lower at $1.2982, dipping below the $1.30 handle and nearly 0.4 percent off a two-month low of $1.2945 hit last month. The currency is now at its least volatile in years as investors await a breakthrough in Britain's European Union divorce process.