US dollar held down by doubts over pace of US recovery; Bitcoin retreats from record high

US dollar held down by doubts over pace of US recovery; Bitcoin retreats from record high
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TOKYO (Feb 15): The US dollar started the week pinned near two-week lows on Monday as traders questioned whether the recovery from the pandemic in the United States would be as fast as expected.

Bitcoin remained volatile, retreating to as low as US$45,914.75 a day after reaching a record US$49,714.66.

The world's most popular cryptocurrency had rallied 25% last week, driven by endorsements from Tesla and BNY Mellon.

The dollar index slipped 0.1% to 90.336, close to last week's low of 90.249 — a level unseen since Jan 27.

The gauge hit a two-month top of 91.6 on Feb 5 on hopes that a US rebound would outpace other major economies, but has since pulled back amid disappointing employment data.

"Now the market is looking for actual evidence that the US economy is outperforming," said Shinichiro Kadota, senior currency strategist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo. 

"The economic data needs to improve."

The euro edged 0.1% higher to US$1.21315, extending last week's 0.6% advance.

The US dollar rose 0.1% to 105.04 yen, recovering some of the previous week's 0.4% loss.

Many financial markets in Asia remained closed on Monday for Lunar New Year, with the United States also out for Presidents Day.

Riskier currencies gained against the greenback, with the Australian dollar adding 0.3% to 77.795 US cents after earlier touching a one-month high of 77.85.

The British pound appreciated 0.3% to US$1.3895 after renewing an almost-three-year high at US$1.3901.

The Chinese yuan reached its strongest level since June 2018 at 6.4012 per US dollar in the offshore market.

In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin last traded 3.7% lower at US$46,852.

Rival virtual coin ethereum, which often trades in tandem with Bitcoin, slumped 4.3% to US$1,725. It reached a record high of US$1,874.98 on Saturday.