Dollar steady as markets wait on stimulus news

A hand holding U.S. dollar banknotes in China on January 25, 2018.
Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

The U.S. dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies on Thursday as investors waited for fresh news on whether new U.S. fiscal stimulus is likely in the near term.

The greenback has been whipsawed by swings in risk sentiment after U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday halted negotiations with Democrats on a new economic package, but later pushed for the approval of more targeted stimulus bills to offset economic damage from the coronavirus.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday said legislation to help airline companies survive the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic was a matter of national security and could only move through Congress with guarantees that lawmakers will work on a more comprehensive aid bill.

"We're just really consolidating. I think the market right now lacks near-term conviction, partly because of uncertainty about U.S. fiscal policy, and sensitivity to these U.S. presidential tweets," said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex in New York.

"There's no new news to shake things up one way or another." The dollar index was little changed against a basket of major currencies at 93.60. It has fallen from a two-month high of 94.75 on Sept. 25, but has held in a tight range between 93.33 and 93.90 this week.

The greenback was little changed at 105.99 Japanese yen, and against the euro at $1.1757.

Investors have been increasing bets that Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden is more likely to win the Nov. 3 U.S. election, and that Democrats could also win the Senate.

A Democratic sweep would make larger fiscal stimulus more likely, which would weaken the U.S.

"Overall, investors seem to be focusing more on the increasing odds of a Biden win and what that might imply for a stimulus package after the election," said Marshall Gittler, head of investment research at BDSwiss.

The New Zealand dollar dropped as much as half a percent after central bank officials again hinted that negative interest rates are possible. It recovered later on Thursday and was last up 0.05% at $0.6582.

Sterling stabilized as prospects for a Brexit deal appeared to improve, with Britain giving it a 66% chance of success.

The pound was last up 0.12% at $1.2934.