Unease over Trump sends dollar to one-and-half month low

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[January 23, 2017]  By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - The dollar fell to a 1-1/2 month low against an index of the world's other top currencies on Monday, after U.S. President Donald Trump struck a protectionist tone in his inauguration speech.

A man walks past a currency exchange bureau advertisement showing an image of the U.S. dollar in Cairo, Egypt, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

The index, which measures the greenback against six major rivals, fell half a percent to 100.28, while it dropped more than 1 percent to 113.440 yen <JPY=> and 0.35 percent to $1.0755 per euro. <EUR=>

"Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and families," Trump said in Washington on Friday. "...Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength."

The speech was then followed over the weekend by coordinated protests in U.S. cities, testy exchanges between members of Trump's top staff and U.S. media and a signal from the president that he would begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

His administration also said it intends to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact. The TPP, which the United States signed but has not ratified, had been the main economic pillar of the Obama administration's "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific region in the face of a fast-rising China.

Sterling was the other big gainer among developed-market currencies, hitting a five-week high as investors bet Britain's Supreme Court would on Tuesday rule the government needs parliamentary approval to trigger formal Brexit talks.

Sterling climbed as much as 0.8 percent to $1.2472 <GBP=D4>, its strongest level since Dec. 19.

"People had expected some kind of repeat of his (Trump's) victory speech in November, but it was a bit confrontational and has sparked some concerns in the markets that he is going to play hard ball," said Rabobank's U.S. focused strategist Philip Marey.

"It was quite straight forward: buy American, hire American... so it's clear what route he is taking."

The dollar index <.DXY> rose around 4.2 percent between Trump's election in November and the end of last year, but it has given back over 2.5 percent of that gain since then, having fallen for nine of the 16 trading sessions this year.

Against the yen this year's fall has been 3 percent.

(Reporting by Marc Jones; editing by John Stonestreet)

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