By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) – The dollar weakened for the second straight session on Tuesday, slipping away from a 19-week high hit in late January, while risk-sensitive currencies such as the Australian dollar and sterling advanced.
* After losing nearly 5% in January, global equities started February somewhat firmer, while currency markets also turned around.
* After hitting a 19-month high last week, the dollar index was down on Monday and by 1223 GMT Tuesday it was down 0.4% at 96.281.
* The euro strengthened, rising 0.3% on the day to $1.12705.
* The dollar’s downward turn could be due to month-end flows, which led investors to sell dollars in the last week. Improved risk appetite seen in equity markets may also be playing a role, as the US currency is considered a safe-haven currency.
* The dollar also weakened against its Japanese pair, to 114.635 yen, and hit a six-day low against the Swiss franc.
* The Australian dollar fell sharply overnight after the Reserve Bank of Australia rejected expectations of short-term interest rate hikes until inflation is higher. However, it recovered soon and was up 0.5% on the day at $0.71045.
* For its part, the pound sterling gained 0.3% to 1.3488 dollars.
(Edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)