SINGAPORE: Upbeat U.S. economic data gave the dollar an edge over its peers on Friday, arresting a recent flight from the greenback while also supporting Asian currencies as investors toned down their recent gloom over the global economy.
Separate surveys suggested the world's largest economy is in better shape than investors had feared. U.S. service sector activity accelerated in August and private employers boosted hiring beyond expectations.
It contributed to a broad risk-on shift in currency, bond and stock markets stoked by news that China-U.S. trade talks would resume next month.
The data kept the dollar steady against most major currencies while investors waited for a monthly payrolls report due at 1230 GMT for the next snapshot on the labour market's health.
“Investors are now hoping they can take this week's positivity over the finishing line, so fingers crossed the August U.S. payroll report…doesn't throw a damp towel on the proceedings," said Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific Market Strategist at AxiTrader.
The optimism of the past few days bolstered the South Korean won and Australian and New Zealand dollars , setting them on course for their sharpest weekly gains since June, each adding more than a percentage point against the dollar.
The pound has had its best week since May, adding almost 1.4% on the dollar as parliament appeared to pull Britain back from the brink of a no-deal exit from the European Union by voting to delay leaving.
Sterling was flat at $1.2328 by 0628 GMT on Friday. Asian currencies drifted slightly higher.
The Australian dollar held close to a month-high struck on Thursday at $0.6817. The won touched a month-high of 1,198.40 per dollar, then retreated a little.
Against a basket of currencies the dollar was flat at 98.387. The euro was steady at $1.1040 at 0628 GMT
The safe-haven yen, which was sold to a one-month low of 107.22 per dollar on Thursday, bounced a little to 106.99, a sign of some caution creeping in.
Meanwhile, the U.S. non-farm payroll report due later on Friday is expected to show an increase of 158,000 and the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.7%. A miss could shatter already fragile sentiment.
Other factors supporting the market's risk appetite are already wavering. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's withdrawal of the extradition bill that sparked the city's summer of protests does not seem to have appeased demonstrators.
Ratings agency Fitch downgraded Hong Kong's credit rating on Friday, citing the continued unrest.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan to kick off what is in effect an election and a Brexit campaign was immediately overshadowed on Thursday when his younger brother quit the government.
China's yuan was mostly flat, though on track for its first weekly gain in three weeks.
“These moves may prove to be short term rather than the start of a fresh cycle," said Nick Twidale, director of Sydney-based brokerage XChainge.
“Both the major geo-political issues that seem to have turned over the last few days have a large degree of uncertainty associated with them over the medium, let alone long term," he said, referring to Brexit and U.S.-China trade talks.
“We've seen a lot of activity on the frequent flyer accounts of both the Chinese and U.S. trade negotiation teams before, which has resulted in little in the way of progress."