By Suzanne Barlyn
(Reuters) -The dollar hovered close to two-year lows on Tuesday as progress toward a massive U.S. government spending bill and COVID-19 relief measures boosted spirits while investors hoped for ongoing cues of easy monetary policy from the Federal Reserve’s final meeting of the year.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was last at 90.458 , after sinking as low as 90.419 on Monday, a level unseen since April 2018.
Hopes that U.S. lawmakers can agree on $1.4 trillion in spending and more clarity about COVID-19 vaccine distribution have whetted investors’ risk appetite, driving them away from safe-haven currencies.
The upbeat investor sentiment drove Wall Street’s main indexes higher on Tuesday. Apple Inc was the top boost to all three U.S. benchmarks, rising 3.5% to a more than three-month high after a report said it plans to increase iPhone production by 30% in the first half of 2021.
Top U.S. congressional leaders are meeting at 4 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Tuesday as they seek to finalize a massive government funding bill and end a standoff on coronavirus relief, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin joining by telephone, the office of House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said.
Despite alarming COVID-19 infection and death rates across Europe and the United States, progress on vaccine rollout continued. Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared set for regulatory authorization this week.
“Today we’ve been just kind of sitting back and waiting, on the dollar side, for news from Capitol Hill,” said John Doyle, vice president of dealing and trading at Tempus Inc in Washington. “That’s how the day started and I don’t see any huge moves that would have changed the outlook for that yet.”
The Fed, which begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday, is expected to keep its key overnight interest rate pinned near zero and to signal it will stay there for years to come. Such moves would further boost investors’ confidence for risk-taking, analysts said.
Many analysts also expect new guidance on how long the Fed will keep up its massive bond-buying program.
Sterling hit a session high on Tuesday after a report that a Brexit trade deal may be close. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also on Tuesday, repeated to his top ministers that the most likely outcome of post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union was no deal.
The pound was last at $1.3444 , up 0.89%.
Broad-based selling of the U.S. dollar drove the euro to hover near a 2-1/2-year peak on Tuesday. The single currency has rocketed 4% since early November to its highest level since April 2018.
The euro was last at $1.2155, up 0.10%..
The Australian dollar was up 0.41% at $0.7562 after touching the highest since June 2018 at $0.7578 on Monday.
Bitcoin was last at $19,505.27, up 1.17%.
Currency bid prices at 3:28PM (2028 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Dollar index 90.4580 90.6960 -0.25% +0.00% +90.8240 +90.4120
Euro/Dollar $1.2155 $1.2143 +0.10% +8.42% +1.2169 +1.2121
Dollar/Yen 103.6500 104.0450 -0.32% -4.52% +104.1450 +103.7100
Euro/Yen 125.98 126.33 -0.28% +3.30% +126.5800 +125.9600
Dollar/Swiss 0.8855 0.8869 -0.16% -8.49% +0.8880 +0.8851
Sterling/Dollar 1.3444 1.3327 +0.89% +1.37% +1.3451 +1.3280
Dollar/Canadian 1.2689 1.2767 -0.60% -2.32% +1.2771 +1.2689
Aussie/Dollar 0.7562 0.7532 +0.41% +7.79% +0.7571 +0.7508
Euro/Swiss 1.0763 1.0769 -0.06% -0.82% +1.0785 +1.0759
Euro/Sterling 0.9041 0.9107 -0.72% +6.94% +0.9149 +0.9038
NZ 0.7096 0.7082 +0.18% +5.44% +0.7098 +0.7060
Dollar/Norway 8.7145 8.7320 -0.20% -0.66% +8.7530 +8.7145
Euro/Norway 10.5920 10.6310 -0.37% +7.67% +10.6375 +10.5920
Dollar/Sweden 8.3827 8.4000 -0.15% -10.32% +8.4202 +8.3654
Euro/Sweden 10.1903 10.2058 -0.15% -2.66% +10.2215 +10.1760
(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Jonathan Oatis)