* Profit-taking prompts pause in dollar slide
* Dollar index up 0.2% but set for weekly loss of 1%
* Sterling on course for best week in six months
* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020 https://tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
By Tom Westbrook
SINGAPORE, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The dollar took a breather on Friday after enduring a week-long beating that has pushed it below major support levels as its slide sucked in more short sellers keen to make an easy buck.
Traders in Asia skimmed some profits from the big moves, which had even sent the greenback to a nine-month low against the safe-haven yen while the Japanese currency was falling against the likes of the rallying euro, Aussie and kiwi . AUD/
Still, it is down 0.6% against the yen for the week and had fallen below September's low of 103.18 yen on Thursday. It is also set for a seventh consecutive weekly drop against the Antipodeans and a 1.1% drop against the euro.
Sterling GBP= is on course for a 2.4% weekly gain on the dollar, its best weekly rise in six months, fuelled by hopes of a Brexit trade deal breakthrough before the end of the year.
"The bigger picture here is that the market is getting hopeful for some resolution of Brexit and (U.S.) fiscal stimulus talks," said Bank of Singapore currency analyst Moh Siong Sim.
Even soft U.S. economic data, rather than driving a safety bid for dollars, is increasing investors' expectations for a government spending package, Sim said, which would lift consumption and risk appetite and weigh on the greenback.
Against a basket of currencies =USD the dollar rose 0.15% to 89.986 - barely above the 2-1/2-year low of 89.723 it made on Thursday. The dollar index is down 1% for the week so far and has fallen 12.6% from a three-year peak in March.
Bitcoin BTC=BTSP was steady in Asia but has rocketed almost 20% this week to record levels above $23,000 as flows have poured in from mainstream investors who are beginning to view it as an inflation-protected wealth store. into the weekend traders are keenly focused on the progress of U.S. fiscal stimulus talks and Brexit trade negotiations to set the tone for the last weeks of the year.
A new potential roadblock to a $900 billion U.S. relief bill emerged in the Congress on Thursday as some Senate Republicans insisted on ensuring that expiring Federal Reserve lending programs cannot be revived. and the European Union also struck a downbeat tone about the likelihood of an agreement on Thursday, but traders are choosing to stick with bets on resolution in both cases. now the narrative of global growth, and broadening of the recovery, favours risk-sensitive currencies like the Aussie and the kiwi," said Rodrigo Catril, National Australia Bank's senior currency strategist in Sydney.
"More of the same is to be expected in 2021."
Elsewhere on Friday the Bank of Japan extended its aid scheme for corporate lending and kept other policy settings steady, as expected. It also pledged to begin an examination on more effective ways to achieve its 2% inflation target. Norwegian crown NOK= handed back some of yesterday's sharp gains which followed hints at rate hikes by the central bank and the South Korean won KRW= was also weighed by a new wave of coronavirus cases which is straining hospitals.
The dollar was last up half a percent on the won and had punched through its 20-day moving average to hit 1,099 won.
The Thai baht THB=TH rose to a seven-year high on hopes for inflows after Thailand eased travel restrictions on Thursday and as investors bet a warning from Washington may temper central bank efforts to restrain the baht's recent rise. EMRG/FRX
A German sentiment survey and U.S. consumer sentiment data are also due later on Friday.
Currency bid prices at 12:59PM in Singapore (0459 GMT) Description
U.S. Close Pct Change
+103.4750 +103.1300 Euro/Yen
+126.7000 +126.4300 Dollar/Swiss
+0.8840 Sterling/Dollar GBP=D3
+1.3520 Dollar/Canadian CAD=D3
All spots FX= Tokyo spots AFX= Europe spots EFX= Volatilities FXVOL= Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ TKYFX
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