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FOREX-Dollar holds near four-month highs vs euro; market weighs up recovery outlooks

* Graphic: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E (Updates prices, adds commentary and chart)

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered near a four-month high against the euro on Thursday as market participants weighed up the divergent recovery outlooks for the United States and Europe, and risk appetite in equities waned.

Global stock markets were at their lowest in two weeks during early European trading, after Chinese technology shares sold off due to concerns that they would be de-listed from American stock exchanges.

Concerns about extended lockdowns in Europe also weighed on markets. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to ditch plans for a lockdown over Easter did little to improve sentiment.

But Wall Street futures were up, ahead of data that is expected to show a drop in weekly jobless claims.

At 1213 GMT, the dollar index was up less than 0.1% on the day, at 92.641, having hit its highest since November 2020, at 92.697, overnight.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars, which dropped in the previous two sessions, edged back up slightly against the U.S. dollar , but both were only up by around 0.1% on the day overall.

On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressed their confidence in the U.S. recovery during a second day of testimony to Congress.

“We think that market pricing for the U.S. economic outlook for this year is leaving a very high threshold to be achieved,” said Simon Harvey, FX analyst at Monex Europe.

“The emphasis is very much on U.S. economic data to meet or exceed these high expectations the market has given it, and we think that’s another downside risk for the dollar.”

INVESTORS

The euro was down 0.1% against the dollar, at $1.1807 .

Stephen Gallo, European head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients that he expected the euro to fall to $1.16 over the next one month.

“The EU’s ‘third COVID wave’, the relatively low vaccine take up rate, and a more subdued fiscal impulse will probably cause the Eurozone’s recovery to lag North America’s by 2-3 months,” Gallo wrote. “The ECB’s desire to cap yields is evidence that even a moderate re-pricing of European sovereign debt is a source of systemic risk,” he added.

Gallo also said that the handling of the vaccine rollout in Europe and “resultant forms of protectionism” could permanently deter investors.

European leaders meet on Thursday and will discuss vaccine supplies.

The EU on Wednesday tightened its oversight of coronavirus vaccine exports, giving it greater scope to block shipments to countries with higher inoculation rates such as Britain.

The Swiss National Bank kept its ultra expansive monetary policy in place, including the world’s lowest interest rate, saying that the Swiss franc remains “highly valued”.

“The fact that the Swiss banks’ sight deposits have been reasonably stable since the autumn suggests that the central bank has largely withdrawn from the FX market,” wrote Commerzbank strategist Thu Lan Nguyen.

However, Nguyen said that she would not rule out the possibility of further SNB interventions in the FX market to limit possible future franc appreciation.

At 1229 GMT, the franc was steady versus the euro, with the pair changing hands at 1.10485.

Elsewhere, bitcoin extended recent losses, down 2.7% at $50,812.49.

The cryptocurrency briefly topped $57,000 in the previous session after Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk said customers can now buy the company’s electric cars with the digital token.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft. Editing by Jane Merriman

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