NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar fell to three-week lows on Friday on optimism that a deal for new U.S. stimulus would be reached, and as investors bet that Democrat Joe Biden is more likely to win the U.S. presidency and offer a larger economic package.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would resume talks on a possible COVID-19 stimulus package with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday, while Senate Republicans voiced doubts that a deal can be reached before the Nov. 3 election.

Republican President Donald Trump, who initially withdrew from the negotiations this week only to regain interest in forging a bipartisan accord, said he was open to a larger deal.

“It seems like, at least in the White House, there is more of a sense of urgency that it needs to be done,” said Bipan Rai, North American head of FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets in Toronto. However, “the key question for us is whether or not the Senate Republicans are going to go with it … they don’t seem to be united.”

“I think we’re more or less in a standstill until we get some more clarity on whether or not this stimulus package is going to go through,” Rai said.

The dollar index against a basket of major currencies <=USD> fell 0.54% to 93.05, the lowest since September 21, and fell below its 50-day moving average for the first time since then. It has held within a range from 91.74 to 94.75 since late July.

The euro

rose 0.57% to $1.1825. The greenback weakened 0.39% against the Japanese yen

to 105.60 yen.
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The U.S. currency also fell on rising expectations that Biden will win the Nov. 3 election, and that Democrats could win the Senate. A Democratic victory would likely result

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Oct 8 (Reuters)The Brazilian real traded lower on Thursday on continued worries about the country’s public finances, although a record reading on retails sales helped limit declines, while other Latin American currencies struggled for direction.

The real BRBY, BRL= edged 0.2% lower, as investors worried about a new fiscal package, known as Renda Cidada, overshooting the government’s spending limit after a volley of mixed information.

“The (Brazilian) government’s intention to create a new social welfare program poses additional risk to the trajectory

of the public accounts,” economists at Credit Suisse noted.

“Despite the government’s decision to revise the proposal after strong backlash, the source of funding for the new program remains uncertain. The main concern is the observance of the spending cap.”

Data from Latin America’s biggest economy provided some support to the currency after Brazilian retail sales rose to their highest on record in August, as economic activity continued to recover from the worst of the nationwide lockdown measures from earlier this year.

Mexico’s peso MXN= was mostly flat in volatile trading. Data showed Mexican inflation cooled to 4.01% in the year through September as consumer prices for energy dropped and food price rises were lower.

A recent Reuters poll showed that Latam currencies are set to remain weighed down this quarter by continuing fears about Brazil’s public finances and Mexico’s close link to U.S. politics before the November presidential vote.

However, Goldman Sachs said lighter investor positioning in emerging markets heading into the U.S. presidential election than before the 2016 vote, suggests “knee-jerk” reactions to the outcome may be contained.

Argentina’s peso ARS=RASL steadied after hitting a record low it hit in the previous session.

The currency was exposed to a fresh bout of selling pressure after the country’s central bank

KEY POINTS

  • Unemployment dropped to 7.9%
  • 661,000 jobs were added to nonfarm payrolls
  • A survey found 31% of those who got a new job said they are earning less

The Labor Department reported Friday the September unemployment rate dipped to 7.9% as a wave of layoffs in the airline and other industries were poised to hit. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said 661,000 jobs were added to nonfarm payrolls, about 200,000 less than what economists were expecting.

The announcement comes against the backdrop of coronavirus stimulus talks between Democrats and the White House and tens of thousands of layoffs in the airline industry, tourist, insurance, banking and other industries.

The report attributed the dip in the jobless rate to “resumption of economic activity due to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it.” Leisure and hospitality, retail trade, healthcare and social assistance, and professional and business services led the way.

“September payroll gains were on the disappointing side, below expectations and well below the pace seen in previous months. The decline in the jobless rate is tainted somewhat by the drop in the labor force participation rate,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, said in an email to International Business Times.

Labor force participation was down 0.3 points to 61.4% while the employment-to-population ratio was 56.6%, off 4.5 points from February.

Labor estimated 7.2 million people had dropped out of the labor force, 2.3 million more than before the pandemic hit. People who wanted a job in September but who were unable to find one numbered 1.9 million while the number of discouraged workers who thought no job was available for them numbered 581,000.

The pandemic was in its 28th week. The number of long-term unemployed, those who have been without jobs for more than 26 weeks, increased 781,000

By Brijesh Patel

(Reuters) – Gold was headed on Friday for its best weekly gain in nearly two months, despite prices slipping from a more than one-week high as the dollar strengthened amid doubts regarding the U.S. stimulus package.

Spot gold was down 0.7% at $1,892.06 per ounce by 0306 GMT, after rising 1% to a 1-1/2-week high of $1,911.66 in the previous session. U.S. gold futures dropped 1% to $1,898.

However, bullion has gained 1.8% this week, its biggest weekly percentage rise since the week ended Aug. 7.

“There was increased optimism about the stimulus talks, but late in the day that optimism fell away and as a result the dollar rallied a bit and we are seeing a retreat in gold,” said Edward Meir, an analyst at ED&F Man Capital Markets.

The dollar index rose 0.2% against its rivals, making gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $2.2 trillion Democratic plan to provide more economic relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, as a bipartisan deal continued to elude House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House.

The deteriorating short-term technical picture and lack of current monetary stimulus to boost precious metals remain a concern to gold bulls, said Avtar Sandu, a senior commodities manager at Phillip Futures in a note.

Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures as it is widely viewed as a hedge against inflation.

Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits remained at recession levels, while personal income dropped in August, underscoring the need for another government rescue package.

Investors focus now shifts to U.S. non-payroll figures due out at 1230 GMT for the latest indication of how the coronavirus-hit economy is faring.

Elsewhere, silver fell 1.4% to $23.56 per

AUSTIN — Texas collected 6.1% less in sales tax in September than a year earlier, Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Thursday.

Retail trade was a rare bright spot, he said.

The state’s oil and gas sector, though, continued to get hammered. So did all other major sectors except retail.

A pre-pandemic bolstering of sales-tax collections on e-commerce has helped offset what would otherwise be even bigger setbacks to the state’s revenue workhorse, Hegar said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and low price of crude oil continue to weigh on the Texas economy and sales tax revenue,” he said in a written statement.

In five of six months since the pandemic struck, the state’s sales tax haul is down from 2019. A 4.3% increase in July, based on Gov. Greg Abbott’s full reopening of the economy in June, was the only exception. Otherwise the trend has been down: By 9.3% in April, 13.2% in May, 6.5% in June, 5.6% in August and 6.1% last month.

Texas’ monthly sales-tax haul has slumped again, raising questions about how the state economy is faring amid the coronavirus pandemic. Wrapping up the state fiscal year, Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Tuesday issued revenue numbers that had more down arrows than up arrows.

In July, Hegar announced that what had been expected to be a nearly $3 billion positive end balance in general-purpose revenue for this cycle instead would be at least a $4.6 billion shortfall.

Last week, in his office’s publication “Fiscal Notes,” Hegar explained why prospects for state budget writers when the Legislature meets next year could get better – or even worse.

“COVID-19 is not disappearing,” he said. “We’re going to have to learn how to strike a balance between keeping people safe and allowing the economy to slowly open up. We have to recognize the new norm.”

But “human behavior” is hard to forecast, he said.

“Even when restrictions are lifted or loosened, when will people feel safe going to the movies again? When will they feel comfortable packing into stadiums or attending conferences and conventions? It’s difficult