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Dollar snaps two-week losing streak as hedge funds grow bullish

The dollar edged higher on Monday, breaking a two-week losing streak as strong U.S. jobs data propped up the greenback in a market broadly cautious on the outlook for risky assets.

With much of Asia out on holidays this week, the dollar also took heart from the recently concluded trade talks between China and the United States with the dollar set for its biggest two-day rising streak against the yuan in a year.

A U.S. Labor Department report on Friday showed nonfarm payrolls jumped by a 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. and

“The main change in market expectations between the close on Thursday and the close on Friday was less chance of a rate cut, not more chance of a rate hike,” said Marshall Gittler, chief strategist at ACLS Global in a note.

Against a basket of its rivals, the dollar edged 0.1 percent higher at 95.70 after posting two consecutive weeks of declines.

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

The latest positioning data showed speculators lifted their net long bets on the U.S. dollar to their highest since December 2015, according to calculations by Reuters and Commodity Futures Trading Commission data.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield was at 2.70 percent, rebounding from a four-week low of 2.619 percent earlier last week. Rising U.S. yields also boosted the greenback.

In broader moves, currency markets stayed in tight ranges in early Asian trade, with the euro trading flat at $1.1455.

China’s financial markets are closed all week for the Lunar New Year holiday. Other Asian markets are also closed for parts of the week, keeping wider market activity subdued.

Sterling was broadly flat at $1.3073 in early Asian trade with traders expecting the pound to remain volatile as Brexit uncertainty remained high.

The Bank of England is scheduled to meet later this week and widely expected to keep interest rates steady.

Source: Reuters (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Additional reporting by Vatsal Srivastava in SINGAPORE; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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