FOREX-Dollar holds near lows before U.S. jobs data
* Market cautious before U.S. jobs data at 1230 GMT
* Upside surprise could give dollar short-term boost
* Report delayed from early Oct due to U.S. govt shutdown
LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The dollar held near its recent lows on Tuesday, with investors cautious before delayed jobs data that will give an indication of the strength of the U.S. economy before this month's government shutdown.
Most market participants expect the negative impact of the shutdown on the economy will lead the U.S. Federal Reserve to delay scaling back its stimulus programme until 2014.
The dollar index, which tracks the dollar's performance against a basket of major currencies, was steady at 79.727, holding above Friday's 8-1/2 month low of 79.478.
The euro was steady at $1.3680, below Friday's high of $1.3704, its strongest since early February, and chart resistance at the 2013 peak of $1.3711.
Payrolls are expected to have increased by 180,000 in September, with the jobless rate steady at 7.3 percent. The figures are due at 1230 GMT.
Analysts said a better number may boost the dollar but this could be short-lived as the data, originally due on Oct. 4, does not cover the shutdown and wrangling over the debt ceiling.
Ian Stannard, head of European FX strategy at Morgan Stanley, expected investors to remain cautious before the data.
"Any signs of weakness could push back Fed tapering. If it is a strong number it would suggest that the shutdown may have had only a limited impact, but the reassurance (for the dollar) may prove to be short-lived."
But Hiroki Shimazu, senior market economist for SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo, said jobs growth of around 180,000 and upward revisions to the July and August numbers could prompt speculation about the Fed reducing stimulus in December.
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Monday it would be "tough" for the Fed to have enough confidence in the economy by its December meeting to start scaling back stimulus.
The fiscal deal clinched last week by U.S. lawmakers only restored government funding until Jan. 15.
The dollar nudged up 0.1 percent to 98.28 yen.
The Australian dollar was up 0.1 percent at $0.9660 , close to a 4-1/2 month high of $0.9680 set on Friday. A move above $0.97 would see it retrace half of its April-to-August fall and could allow a move towards parity.
Morgan Stanley's Stannard expected the Australian dollar to outperform and rise towards $0.98 in the near-term as it benefits from higher interest rates and the fact that Australia has stronger links to China than to the United States.