FOREX-Dollar gains on data, yen up on U.S. political uncertainty

* Yen hits highest level since early March

* Focus turns to Fed meeting next week

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

(Adds analyst comment, updates prices in text, table) NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) - The dollar rose against most currencies on Friday, bolstered by solid U.S. economic data that further supported consensus expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at next week's monetary policy meeting. "The gains in the dollar were a positive reaction to the data," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington. "The reports show that the dollar's fundamental backdrop remains strong." U.S. industrial production surged in February, boosted by strong increases in output at factories and mines, while a consumer sentiment survey by the University of Michigan showed a rise in the overall index for March. "A rate hike of 25 basis points on Wednesday is almost a foregone conclusion," said James Chen, head of research at Forex.com in Bedminster, New Jersey. Given the high expectations for a 25 basis-point rate hike, investors will be focused be on the Fed's outlook for further hikes in 2018 and beyond, he added. The dollar, however, fell to a more than one-week low against the yen, undermined by speculation that more top Trump administration officials could be replaced and concerns U.S. trade tariffs could hurt the global economy. These U.S.-centric factors have rattled markets in recent days, pushing the dollar lower and leaving the yen as the main beneficiary. U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to replace his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. At the same time, the New York Times reported U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had issued a subpoena for documents related to Trump's businesses, including some concerning Russia. Earlier this week, the U.S. currency took a hit after Trump dismissed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as investors grew increasingly nervous about the direction U.S. policy might take following a series of departures by key staff members. In late trading, the dollar was down 0.2 percent at 106.08 yen after falling as low as 105.61 yen, the lowest since March 7. The dollar index was up 0.1 percent at 90.223. It has been on the defensive for much of the week amid the shake-up inside Trump's administration and as next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting comes into focus. The euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.2284, with little to drive the single currency higher. It has struggled to make much headway since rallying in January and faced further headwinds after the European Central Bank last week cautioned investors not to expect a paring back of monetary stimulus any time soon.


Currency bid prices at 3:13PM (1913 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid Previous Change


Euro/Dollar EUR= $1.2287 $1.2304 -0.14% +2.43% +1.2336 +1.2261 Dollar/Yen JPY= 106.0700 106.3300 -0.24% -5.86% +106.3800 +105.6100 Euro/Yen EURJPY= 130.32 130.83 -0.39% -3.60% +130.9100 +130.0800 Dollar/Swiss CHF= 0.9525 0.9514 +0.12% -2.24% +0.9547 +0.9486 Sterling/Dollar GBP= 1.3940 1.3936 +0.03% +3.17% +1.3979 +1.3889 Dollar/Canadian CAD= 1.3090 1.3052 +0.29% +4.08% +1.3098 +1.3045 Australian/Doll AUD= 0.7712 0.7798 -1.10% -1.14% +0.7804 +0.7712


Euro/Swiss EURCHF= 1.1706 1.1705 +0.01% +0.15% +1.1713 +1.1689 Euro/Sterling EURGBP= 0.8812 0.8827 -0.17% -0.80% +0.8838 +0.8811 NZ Dollar/Dolar NZD= 0.7209 0.7276 -0.92% +1.74% +0.7282 +0.7209 Dollar/Norway NOK= 7.7191 7.7140 +0.07% -5.94% +7.7388 +7.6975 Euro/Norway EURNOK= 9.4862 9.4906 -0.05% -3.68% +9.5117 +9.4735 Dollar/Sweden SEK= 8.1960 8.1787 +0.07% -0.07% +8.2105 +8.1749 Euro/Sweden EURSEK= 10.0716 10.0648 +0.07% +2.36% +10.0936 +10.0549

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss Editing by Susan Thomas and Dan Grebler)