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Dollar holds near 2-month high vs yen on Fed tapering view

Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 | 12:31 AM ET
Sha Ying | CNBC

The dollar eased on Wednesday but still clung near a two-month high against the yen, supported by speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve is on course to start reducing its stimulus as early as December.

After surprisingly strong U.S. October payroll data on Friday had many investors reassessing the timing of a Fed tapering, attention is now on the comments that nominee Fed President Janet Yellen will make at her Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.

(Read more: Be patient, the yen trade is not over yet)

"Since Yellen has become a candidate to succeed Ben Bernanke, she has hardly spoken about her view on monetary policy. Because the market doesn't seem to doubt she is a dove, there's a chance she is not as dovish as expected," said Ichiro Asai, economist at Daiwa Securities.

The dollar eased 0.2 percent to 99.46 yen, after having set a two-month high of 99.80 yen on Tuesday. The greenback is still up about 0.4 percent so far this week, as the U.S. currency drew strength from a surge in U.S. bond yields.

66% are bullish on dollar: CNBC's forex poll
According to CNBC's weekly forex sentiment survey, two thirds of recipients expect the U.S. dollar index to gain.

Higher U.S. bond yields tend to favor the dollar by making dollar-denominated debt more attractive to bond investors. The 10-year U.S. yield has risen almost 20 basis points since the payroll data.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar's value against a basket of six major currencies, also held near the two-month peak of 81.482 struck on Friday. It last stood at 81.082, down 0.1 percent on the day.

On Tuesday, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, seen as a centrist, did not rule out a tapering of the quantitative easing program at the Dec. 17-18 policy meeting, though he also said the Fed should keep policy very easy.

Sterling wobbly, euro edges up

(Read more: Aftermath of US shutdown continues to jolt dollar)

Sterling was wobbly following a slide to a two-month low of $1.5854 the previous day after UK inflation for October fell more than expected.

It was last down 0.1 percent at $1.5890, bracing for a potentially hectic trading day ahead of UK jobs data at 0930 GMT and more importantly the Bank of England's quarterly inflation report an hour later.

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The pound might get a lift if the BoE brings forward the point at which it sees UK unemployment hitting 7 percent, the level at which it would consider raising rates, though a fall in inflation could give the central bank leeway to wait longer.

The euro fared a tad better, maintaining its gain from a seven-week low of $1.3295 hit just after the European Central Bank's surprise rate cut on Thursday.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to about $1.3447. The euro has risen 0.6 percent so far this week, gaining a bit of respite following its recent drop from a two-year high of $1.3833 set in late October.

"The rally in euro has been a short-covering rally all week," said Jeffrey Halley, FX trader for Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore.

(Read more: Euro hits 6-week low; Aussie lifted by solid retail sales)

In the near term, stop-loss euro buying could kick in at levels above $1.3470, while a drop to levels below $1.3400 could trigger stop-loss selling of the euro, he added.

The Australian dollar was listless, staying near a two-month low against the U.S. dollar. The Aussie dollar held steady at $0.9304, having fallen to $0.9260 on Tuesday, its lowest level since mid-September.

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