LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar dipped on Monday after three consecutive weeks of gains as investors took profits before U.S. midterm elections this week that may fuel a new bout of volatility for global markets.

FILE PHOTO: New 100 and 200 euro banknotes are displayed in Vienna, Austria, September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

Notwithstanding a dollar selloff in the second half of last week, hedge funds added to their dollar holdings taking net long positions to its biggest levels since Dec. 2016 as latest data have encouraged more bullish bets.

The dollar index .DXY was down 0.1 percent at 96.39. It hit a June 2017 high of 97.20 last week.

“Some positions squaring is seen on the dollar before the elections this week though the euro is also soft on the latest news from Europe,” said Manuel Oliveri, an FX strategist at Credit Agricole in London.

Investors head into Tuesday’s U.S. congressional election with the Democratic Party facing a strong chance of winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives, with Republicans likely to keep the Senate.

Speculators added to their net long U.S. dollar bets, taking the value of the net long dollar position to $26.74 billion in the week ended Oct. 30, nearing its highest level since Dec. 2016, according to latest futures data.

Friday’s data showed that U.S. jobs growth rebounded sharply in October and wages recorded their largest annual gain in 9-1/2 years, pushing U.S. Treasury yields on ten-year maturities US10YT=RR to 3.2 percent on Monday.

The strong U.S. data also brought into prominence the diverging trends between a robust U.S. economy and its struggling European counterpart with a Citibank economic monitor .CESIEUR showing the European index near 2018 lows.

Recent dovish comments from senior policymakers such as Finnish central bank chief Olli Rehn have raised some hopes that the European Central Bank could extend a new set of long-term loans to the bank sector.

Though ECB policymakers said last week that new targeted long-term refinancing operations are an option that may be considered in due time, sources have told Reuters that a new round of loans is not imminent.

The single currency EUR=EBS softened 0.1 percent to $1.1378.

“The latest news heightens the downside risk to the euro from weaker economic data for a while,” said John Marley at FX risk management specialist, Smart Currency Business.

Sterling GBP=D3 held near the day’s highs, up 0.3 percent at $1.3001 on a Sunday Times report that an all-UK customs deal will be written into the agreement governing Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May’s office has dismissed the report as “speculation”.

Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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