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FOREX-Dollar extends decline as risk appetite favors equities

    * Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E

 (Adds new quote, changes dateline to NEW YORK (was LONDON),
changes byline)
    By Stephen Culp
    NEW YORK, Feb 19 (Reuters) - The dollar lost ground on
Friday, extending Thursday's decline as improved risk appetite
attracted buyers to equities and away from the safe-haven
greenback.  
    The U.S. dollar has been weighed down by a string of soft
labor market data, even as President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9
trillion spending package takes shape.
    "What the foreign exchange market is looking at in the short
term, is the dollar is going to be weak despite progress in the
economy because this country has a huge deficit problem," said
Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital
Securities in New York. "The dollar index could easily test the
lows of last September." 
    Also weighing on the dollar, the real yield gap between the
United States and Germany is at its tightest since March,
analysts said, despite the recent rise in U.S. Treasury yields.
    Bitcoin continues to hover at record highs, and the world's
largest cryptocurrency was last up 2.6% at $52,931.46, nearing
$1 trillion in market capitalization.
    Its smaller rival, ethereum, was last down 1.0% at
$1,920.13.
    The digital currencies have gained about 82% and 1,400%,
respectively, year to date, leading some analysts to warn of a
speculative bubble.
    "There may be a place for (cryptocurrencies) somewhere down
the road, but the theories that cryptos will replace paper
currency are far-fetched," Cardillo added. "It's total
speculation at this point and people are going to pay the
price."   
    The Australian dollar, which is closely linked to
commodity prices and the outlook for global growth, was last up
1.15% at $0.7858, touching its highest since March 2018.

    The New Zealand dollar also gained, closing in on a
more than two-year high, and the Canadian dollar
advanced as well.
    Sterling rose to an almost three-year high amid
Britain's aggressive vaccination programme. It had last gained
0.34% to $1.40.
    The euro showed little reaction to a slowdown in
factory activity indicated by purchasing manager index data,
rising 0.29% to $1.2126. 
    The yen, gained ground against the dollar and was
last at 105.495, creeping above its 200-day moving average for
the first time in three days.
    ========================================================
    Currency bid prices at 9:59AM (1459 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct       High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                   
                                              Session                                             
 Dollar index                 90.2900        90.5640     -0.29%         0.343%        +90.6550    +90.1720
 Euro/Dollar                  $1.2126        $1.2091     +0.29%         -0.75%        +$1.2145    +$1.2083
 Dollar/Yen                   105.4950       105.6600    -0.16%         +2.13%        +105.7350   +105.2700
 Euro/Yen                     127.93         127.79      +0.11%         +0.80%        +127.9500   +127.6600
 Dollar/Swiss                 0.8950         0.8960      -0.11%         +1.16%        +0.8969     +0.8933
 Sterling/Dollar              $1.4019        $1.3972     +0.34%         +2.61%        +$1.4035    +$1.3952
 Dollar/Canadian              1.2611         1.2678      -0.51%         -0.95%        +1.2713     +1.2605
 Aussie/Dollar                $0.7858        $0.7769     +1.15%         +2.15%        +$0.7867    +$0.7758
 Euro/Swiss                   1.0851         1.0830      +0.19%         +0.41%        +1.0857     +1.0833
 Euro/Sterling                0.8648         0.8647      +0.01%         -3.23%        +0.8678     +0.8644
 NZ                           $0.7294        $0.7220     +0.97%         +1.52%        +$0.7299    +$0.7206
 Dollar/Dollar                                                                                    
 Dollar/Norway                8.4420         8.4605      -0.25%         -1.72%        +8.4905     +8.4145
 Euro/Norway                  10.2368        10.2215     +0.15%         -2.20%        +10.2633    +10.2040
 Dollar/Sweden                8.2764         8.3129      -0.06%         +0.98%        +8.3268     +8.2629
 Euro/Sweden                  10.0333        10.0394     -0.06%         -0.43%        +10.0610    +10.0288
 


    
 (Reporting by Stephen Culp, additonal reporting by Tommy
Wilkes; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
  
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