By Eimi Yamamitsu
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar held gains against a basket of major currencies on Thursday as escalating coronavirus cases in Europe stoked fears across markets that fresh lockdowns would further hit the already fragile economic recovery.
The safe-haven greenback steadied against a basket of six currencies () at 93.41, taking a pause after its 0.3% gains in early trade.
Concerns of further damage to the economic recovery grew as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown on Wednesday, as a massive second wave of coronavirus cases threatened to overwhelm Europe.
The euro () changed hands at $1.1753 after sliding to a one-week low of $1.1718 overnight. It also steadied against the Japanese yen (), last fetching 122.63 yen after hitting its weakest levels since July overnight.
Amid surging cases across Europe, the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday is expected to resist pressure to unveil new stimulus measures, but will likely pave the way for action in December.
“EUR can fall further if ECB President Christine Lagarde lays the ground work for further policy easing at her post meeting press conference,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:) currency analyst Kim Mundy in a note.
Traders also braced for volatility with the U.S election less than a week away, while the country, like Europe, also faces an increase in coronavirus infections.
With former Vice President Joe Biden consistently leading in the polls over President Donald Trump, traders cautiously bet on his victory and a possible “blue wave” outcome, where Democrats control both chambers of Congress.
“While Biden is taking the lead, Trump has been catching up in some parts of swing states,” said Shinichiro Kadota, senior strategist at Barclays (LON:).
“There is certainly a possibility of a higher volatility in the market if it becomes a closer battle, involving risks such as full results not being released (on the election day),” he said.
Data due on Thursday includes U.S. third-quarter gross domestic product, which analysts expect to show record growth but not enough to make up for the pandemic impact.
The greenback steadied against the Japanese yen at 104.33 yen
The Bank of Japan ends its two-day policy meeting later in the day and analysts expect the central bank to keep monetary settings unchanged.
The Australian dollar
Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand dollar
Elsewhere, the Canadian dollar
The Bank of Canada said on Wednesday it expects interest rates to remain at current record lows until 2023 and reduced its weekly bond-buying programme.
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