News: FOREX-Dollar boosted by robust U.S. private payrolls, news of virus treatment

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    • Talk of possible virus treatment sparks risk asset rally
    • Death toll from coronavirus rises to 490
    • U.S. private payrolls rise more than expected in January
    • U.S. services sector activity picks up in January
    • Graphic: World FX rates in 2019

    (Adds Hong Kong dollar hitting nearly four-year high vs the U.S. dollar, Trump's impeachment acquittal; updates prices)

    The dollar gained against the safe-haven Japanese yen and Swiss franc on Wednesday, as risk appetite rose on reports of a possible treatment for the new coronavirus out of China, which has caused major disruptions in the global economy and businesses around the world

    The U.S. currency also benefited from a strong private-sector payrolls report for January, suggesting the world's largest economy was on a stable growth path.

    The focus, though, remained on the coronavirus, with the yen and Swiss franc falling after news reports said a Chinese university had found a drug to treat infected people, and researchers in Britain had made a "significant breakthrough" in finding a vaccine. Traders used the headlines to load up on risky assets.

    "There is some optimism about having potentially a way to treat the symptoms from having the coronavirus," said Erik Nelson, currency strategist at Wells Fargo Securities in New York.

    The World Health Organization, however, played down the reports of "breakthrough" drugs being discovered, saying that there are "no known effective therapeutics."

    The virus so far has claimed 490 lives, most in and around the locked-down central Chinese city of Wuhan, where it emerged late last year. There have been two deaths in the Philippines and Hong Kong, both following visits to Wuhan.

    Investors overall were heartened as China's central bank injected substantial liquidity into the financial system to cushion the economic fallout from the virus.

    "The response we're seeing from Chinese authorities is not surprising," said Erik Bregar, head of FX strategy at Exchange Bank of Canada in Toronto. "They're doing everything they can to shore up investor confidence, and frankly we expect more of this kind of reporting."

    Risk sentiment also improved after the ADP National Employment Report showed that U.S. private-sector payrolls increased by 291,000 in January, far above expectations for an increase of 156,000 jobs. January's job gains were the largest since May 2015.

    In addition, U.S. services sector activity picked up last month, with industries reporting increases in new orders. The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index rose to 55.5 last month, the highest since August.

    In afternoon trading, the dollar rose 0.3% against the yen to 109.83 yen JPY= , after earlier hitting a two-week high of 109.84 yen. Against the Swiss franc it rose 0.5%, to 0.9738 franc CHF= .

    The dollar held gains after President Donald Trump was acquitted late Wednesday in his U.S. Senate impeachment trial. The Senate voted 52-48 to acquit him of abuse of power stemming from his request that Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

    The Australian dollar, a barometer of risk appetite toward China given Australia's close economic ties with Beijing, was also well-bid, up 0.2% versus the dollar at US$0.6754 AUD= .

    The Chinese currency in the offshore market also rebounded 0.2% against the dollar CNH=D3 , which fell to 6.9751 yuan.

    The Hong Kong dollar rose sharply as well, hitting its highest level since March 2017 against the U.S. dollar, which was last down at HK$7.7619 HKD= .

    	Currency bid prices at 4:45 PM (2145 GMT) 
     Description	  RIC		 Last		   U.S. Close  Pct Change	 YTD Pct	 High Bid	Low Bid 
    											  Previous				   Change				  
     Euro/Dollar	  EUR=		$1.0997		$1.1042	 -0.41%		 -1.90%	  +1.1047	 +1.0994 
     Dollar/Yen	   JPY=		109.8300	   109.5100	+0.29%		 +0.89%	  +109.8400   +109.3100 
     Euro/Yen		 EURJPY=	 120.79		 120.96	  -0.14%		 -0.95%	  +121.1400   +120.6600 
     Dollar/Swiss	 CHF=		0.9738		 0.9690	  +0.50%		 +0.62%	  +0.9747	 +0.9679 
     Sterling/Dollar  GBP=		1.2997		 1.3029	  -0.25%		 -1.98%	  +1.3069	 +1.2958 
     Dollar/Canadian  CAD=		1.3282		 1.3272	  +0.08%		 +2.28%	  +1.3302	 +1.3262 
     Australian/Doll  AUD=		0.6746		 0.6737	  +0.13%		 -3.92%	  +0.6774	 +0.6725 
     Euro/Swiss	   EURCHF=	 1.0709		 1.0702	  +0.07%		 -1.32%	  +1.0728	 +1.0691 
     Euro/Sterling	EURGBP=	 0.8460		 0.8474	  -0.17%		 +0.07%	  +0.8490	 +0.8435 
     NZ			   NZD=		0.6474		 0.6488	  -0.22%		 -3.89%	  +0.6502	 +0.6470 
     Dollar/Norway	NOK=		9.2144		 9.2095	  +0.05%		 +4.97%	  +9.2493	 +9.1769 
     Euro/Norway	  EURNOK=	 10.1345		10.1701	 -0.35%		 +3.01%	  +10.2147	+10.1120 
     Dollar/Sweden	SEK=		9.5819		 9.5883	  -0.48%		 +2.51%	  +9.6011	 +9.5516 
     Euro/Sweden	  EURSEK=	 10.5397		10.5902	 -0.48%		 +0.67%	  +10.5985	+10.5280 
    Australian dollar 
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