News: FOREX-Dollar slides on bets of Fed pausing U.S. rate hikes

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    • Fed fund futures price in small chance of rate cut
    • Euro, Swiss franc outperform against dollar
    • Focus on U.S.-China talks
    • Graphic: World FX rates in 2018

    (Adds comment, FX table, updates prices, changes byline, dateline; previous LONDON)

    The dollar weakened on Monday, pressured by growing expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will either pause or halt its interest rate hike cycle, with the euro and Swiss franc leading gains among its rivals.

    Even after last week's strong U.S. jobs data for December, market watchers believe the world's biggest economy is losing momentum. Recent comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell have added to expectations the central bank may adopt a more cautious outlook.

    On Friday, Powell told the American Economic Association that the Fed is not on a preset path of rate hikes and that it will be sensitive to the downside risks markets are pricing in.

    "Fed Chair Powell's comments Friday that policymakers were flexible and 'listening carefully' to financial markets helped support the impression that the Fed tightening cycle may slow or pause in the coming months," said Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.

    He added that Fed funds futures continue to price in the small risk of a rate cut over the coming year, with roughly eight basis points of easing implied in the January 2019-January 2020 spread early on Monday.

    In mid-morning trading, the dollar index was down 0.4 percent at 95.736 .DXY , not far from a 2-1/2-month low of 95.68 hit last week.

    Money markets have priced out a U.S. rate hike this year and are even pricing in a small probability of a rate cut in 2020. The Fed raised rates four times in 2018.

    Waning expectations of a U.S. rate hike boosted the euro EUR= , which rose 0.6 percent to $1.14627. The Swiss franc also gained sharply versus the dollar, which fell 0.7 percent to 0.9798 franc CHF= .

    The dollar outperformed other currencies in 2018 on the back of a Fed being the only major central bank hiking rates. If it stays on hold in 2019, other currencies such as the euro might benefit.

    The FX options markets is showing euro risk reversals - a gauge of calls to puts and a market sentiment gauge on the currency - have steadily climbed to their highest levels in more than six months as investors bet on more upside for the single currency.

    News over the weekend of a Chinese policy stimulus, meanwhile, helped lift sentiment and boost commodity-focused currencies such as the Australian dollar AUD= , gaining 0.2 percent to US$0.7127.

    Financial markets are also optimistic about a meeting of U.S. officials and their counterparts in Beijing this week, the first face-to-face talks since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on Dec. 1 to a 90-day truce in their trade war.

    	Currency bid prices at 9:37AM (1437 GMT) 
     Description	  RIC		 Last		   U.S. Close  Pct Change	 YTD Pct	 High Bid	Low Bid 
    											  Previous				   Change				  
     Euro/Dollar	  EUR=		$1.1462		$1.1393	 +0.61%		 -0.06%	  +1.1469	 +1.1393 
     Dollar/Yen	   JPY=		108.2300	   108.5200	-0.27%		 -1.84%	  +108.7400   +108.0400 
     Euro/Yen		 EURJPY=	 124.08		 123.70	  +0.31%		 -1.70%	  +124.2300   +123.4200 
     Dollar/Swiss	 CHF=		0.9796		 0.9863	  -0.68%		 -0.18%	  +0.9868	 +0.9797 
     Sterling/Dollar  GBP=		1.2767		 1.2726	  +0.32%		 +0.08%	  +1.2777	 +1.2719 
     Dollar/Canadian  CAD=		1.3352		 1.3372	  -0.15%		 -2.09%	  +1.3389	 +1.3338 
     Australian/Doll  AUD=		0.7128		 0.7112	  +0.22%		 +1.12%	  +0.7141	 +0.7110 
     Euro/Swiss	   EURCHF=	 1.1233		 1.1244	  -0.10%		 -0.19%	  +1.1260	 +1.1226 
     Euro/Sterling	EURGBP=	 0.8977		 0.8954	  +0.26%		 -0.08%	  +0.8988	 +0.8953 
     NZ			   NZD=		0.6759		 0.6729	  +0.45%		 +0.63%	  +0.6766	 +0.6721 
     Dollar/Norway	NOK=		8.5633		 8.6101	  -0.54%		 -0.87%	  +8.6145	 +8.5610 
     Euro/Norway	  EURNOK=	 9.8184		 9.8145	  +0.04%		 -0.88%	  +9.8270	 +9.7974 
     Dollar/Sweden	SEK=		8.9222		 8.9578	  +0.20%		 -0.46%	  +8.9611	 +8.9138 
     Euro/Sweden	  EURSEK=	 10.2287		10.2080	 +0.20%		 -0.34%	  +10.2353	+10.2060 
    USD valuations	http// 
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