* GRAPHIC: World FX rates in 2019:
(Recasts; updates prices)
By Kate Duguid
NEW YORK, March 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar gained on Thursday
for the first time in a week, albeit modestly, as the pound stalled at
lower levels ahead of a vote to extend Britain's March 29 deadline for
exiting the European Union.
The pound was down 0.54 percent at $1.3266 in afternoon American
trade as Prime Minister Theresa May piled pressure on rebel
lawmakers on Thursday to back her battered European Union divorce deal
as parliament prepared to vote on seeking a delay to Britain's
departure that could ultimately derail the process.
A day earlier, the British currency soared nearly 2 percent and
reached nine-month highs after lawmakers voted against a potentially
disorderly "no-deal" departure from the EU.
Analysts cautioned against putting large positions on sterling due
to lingering uncertainty about Brexit.
"With the uncertainty around (Brexit), it's not a time ... to
take sizeable positions. The risk/reward still favors waiting for some
clarity," said Charles Tomes, senior investment analyst at
Manulife Asset Management.
The dollar index, a gauge of its strength against six other major
currencies, was up 0.22 percent at 96.757 . It had fallen overnight,
at one point brushing a nine-day trough of 96.385.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased
more than expected last week, suggesting the labor market was slowing,
but probably not to the extent implied by a near-stall in job growth
Other U.S. data showed import prices in February rose by the most
in nine months. Still, the inflation trend remained weak as import
prices dropped on a year-on-year basis for a third straight month. The
data remained supportive of the Federal Reserve's pledge to be
"patient" before raising interest rates.
"In the foreign exchange market overall there's not a lot of
conviction" at the moment, said Tomes. "Volatility is low
and people don't want to put on sizeable positions either way."
The Australian dollar fell to its lowest in three days after
reports that China and the United States had delayed a meeting to end
their trade war. The meeting between President Donald Trump and
President Xi Jinping will not occur this month and is more likely to
happen in April at the earliest, Bloomberg reported. It was last at
$0.7061, down 0.54 percent on the day.
Investors are worried that any escalation in the trade conflict
will pummel export-oriented economies like Australia, whose biggest
trading partner is China. The yuan was relatively stable in the
offshore market, down 0.31 percent at 6.7230
World FX rates in 2019:
(Reporting by Kate Duguid and Tom Finn Editing by James Dalgleish)
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