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Wednesday October 21, 2009 - 23:34:24 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-USD selling gathers momentum, China data eyed

Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:28pm EDT

* U.S. dollar weak as rates seen holding near lows

* Commodity currencies firm ahead of Chinese data

* Sterling extends gains after BoE minutes

By Anirban Nag

SYDNEY, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar was under pressure on Thursday, hovering near a 14-month low against a basket of currencies, while investors added bets on growth-linked currencies ahead of a slew of Chinese data.

A slew of Chinese data is due later in the session, including third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth numbers. Also due are September retail sales, industrial production, fixed investments data and consumer and producer prices. [nSP383524]

A strong set of numbers could lift commodity currencies like the Australian AUD=D4 and New Zealand dollars NZD=D4.

Sterling GBP=D4 also made headway, rising to $1.6621 from $1.6582 late on Wednesday when it gained more than 1 percent after minutes from a Bank of England meeting suggested officials were not ready to expand an emergency asset-buying programme and had "differences of view" on inflation. [ID:nLL60939]

Analysts said that brought interest rate differentials back into focus with investors expecting the U.S. Federal Reserve to lag other major central banks in raising interest rates. With the Fed likely to hold rates at record lows for an extended period, it would diminish investor desire to hold U.S. dollars.

Richard Grace, chief currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said the Fed's Beige book suggested price pressures were very subdued in the United States, reinforcing the case that rates there would remain low.

For more on the "Beige Book", click on [ID:nWEQ003508].

"U.S. yields are unattractive and clearly deflationary pressures are still there," Grace said. "All this means that the U.S. dollar will continue to head lower."

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar .DXY was at 75.078, having hit a fresh 14-month low of 74.94. The next key level is seen at 74.50, the intra-day low hit on Aug 8 last year.

Senior White House aide Lawrence Summers gave a strong backing to the dollar, adding he did not think its status as a global reserve currency was in jeopardy. [nN21508789].

Despite the greenback's battering over the past few months, U.S. officials have stepped up rhetoric about a strong dollar.

But they also want to see a correction in imbalances between exporter and importer nations, a move analysts felt would require the greenback to fall even further.

The euro EUR= held above the psychological key level of $1.50, having risen to as high as $1.5046 on Wednesday, its highest level since August 2008. On the yen, the euro edged up to 136.52 yen EURJPY=R from 136.33 yen late on Wednesday.

The yen JPY= weakened to 90.93 per dollar from 90.87 yen late in New York on Wednesday. The Japanese currency was also on the defensive against the high-flying Australian dollar AUDJPY=R. The Aussie was firm at 84.31 yen, not far from a one-year high of 84.84 yen struck in the previous session.

Traders expect the Australian dollar to test the 93 U.S. cent mark if Chinese data surprises on the upside. China is Australia's biggest trading partner and robust Chinese demand for its commodities has helped the country to dodge a recession. (Editing by Mark Bendeich)

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