FOREX-Dollar stands tall on better U.S. outlook vs Europe

    * Graphic: World FX rates

    By David Henry and Saikat Chatterjee
    NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The dollar rose to two-month highs against the euro on Tuesday as
markets saw a widening disparity between the strength of U.S. and European economic recoveries from the
coronavirus pandemic.
    Moves in Washington toward more stimulus spending and progress with vaccinations in the United States
contrasted with European lockdowns and expectations for a steepening decline in euro zone GDP, despite
data on Tuesday that showed less of a contraction in the fourth quarter than had been anticipated.

    Against the dollar, the euro was trading at $1.2030 at mid-morning in New York, down almost
to an early December low, and off 0.24% for the day as well as down 1.53% for the year.
    "Growth differentials are taking a toll on the euro and adding to the traction that we've seen for the
U.S. currency this year," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.
     "Europe might be about a year behind the U.S. in terms of a full recovery," he said.
     The dollar index gained 0.27% despite further gains for global stocks.

    Initial European Union estimates showed the euro zone economy contracted less than expected in the
fourth quarter of 2020, which was marked by pandemic-induced lockdowns. But the economy appears headed for
another, probably steeper decline in the first quarter of this year.
    Those concerns were amplified after retail sales in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, plunged by more
than forecast in December, according to data on Monday.    
    "Things are looking even more depressing here," Commerzbank strategists said in a daily note.
    Supporting the dollar on Tuesday were signs that the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was
prepared to take the first step forward on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package
with a key vote expected to fast-track the measure even in the face of Republican opposition.
    The dollar has also benefited from a massive bout of short-covering, especially against the yen, where
hedge funds had racked up their biggest short bets against the greenback since October 2016.
    Against the yen, the dollar hovered above 105 yen for the first time since mid-November. 
    Many see the dollar's rebound since early last month as a correction after a relentless decline - the
dollar index lost almost 7% in 2020 - on expectations of a global recovery from the pandemic with massive
fiscal spending and continued ultra-easy monetary policy.
    However, some like Claire Dissaux, head of strategy at Millennium Global, remain cautious on the
dollar, citing the relative appeal of the valuation of European assets compared with U.S. markets.
    Elsewhere, the Australian dollar pared gains after the country's central bank said it would extend its
quantitative easing programme to buy an additional $100 billion of bonds, a decision that many market
players thought would wait until next month.
    The Aussie last stood at $0.7575, down 0.6% for the day.    
    Currency bid prices at 10:14AM (1514 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct     High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                 
 Dollar index                 91.2040        90.9720     +0.27%         1.341%      +91.2830    +90.8050
 Euro/Dollar                  $1.2030        $1.2060     -0.24%         -1.53%      +$1.2088    +$1.2020
 Dollar/Yen                   105.1000       104.9150    +0.20%         +1.77%      +105.1650   +104.9000
 Euro/Yen                     126.44         126.56      -0.09%         -0.38%      +126.8200   +126.3200
 Dollar/Swiss                 0.8985         0.8969      +0.18%         +1.56%      +0.8995     +0.8947
 Sterling/Dollar              $1.3621        $1.3662     -0.32%         -0.32%      +$1.3709    +$1.3611
 Dollar/Canadian              1.2847         1.2858      -0.07%         +0.90%      +1.2869     +1.2785
 Aussie/Dollar                $0.7575        $0.7622     -0.60%         -1.52%      +$0.7661    +$0.7564
 Euro/Swiss                   1.0810         1.0818      -0.07%         +0.03%      +1.0832     +1.0800
 Euro/Sterling                0.8831         0.8825      +0.07%         -1.19%      +0.8837     +0.8796
 NZ                           $0.7143        $0.7158     -0.22%         -0.54%      +$0.7192    +$0.7136
 Dollar/Norway                8.6250         8.6000      +0.40%         +0.55%      +8.6495     +8.5595
 Euro/Norway                  10.3821        10.3770     +0.05%         -0.81%      +10.4045    +10.3307
 Dollar/Sweden                8.4350         8.4253      -0.15%         +2.91%      +8.4465     +8.3931
 Euro/Sweden                  10.1480        10.1628     -0.15%         +0.71%      +10.1720    +10.1370
 (Reporting by David Henry in New York and Saikat Chatterjee in London
Editing by Mark Heinrich)