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Friday October 15, 2010 - 10:59:07 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Dollar under pressure as market seeks Fed policy clues

6:30am EDT

* Dollar weak before Bernanke speech, inflation data

* Dollar index may test trendline near 76.00, then 2009 low

* 76.4 pct retrace of euro's 2009-2010 drop lies at $1.4374

(Updates prices, adds quote)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered near a 10-month low versus a currency basket on Friday as investors seeking more clues on likely U.S. monetary easing waited for Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke to speak.

Bernanke's speech at 1215 GMT is expected to give pointers on how aggressive the Federal Reserve's anticipated easing will be next month, while soft inflation data at 1230 GMT could add to the case for looser policy. [ID:nN14141178] ECONUS

The euro was just short of its highest level in more than eight months against the greenback, while the Australian dollar AUD=D4 hovered close to a 28-year peak, with traders reporting euro buying by Asian central banks and real money accounts.

"There is growing expectation that he (Bernanke) may provide more clarity on the Fed's proposed QE2 today ... The criteria for perceived success is important to provide a guide as to when it may end," a London-based trader said.

"The dollar is likely to continue to weaken if the market feels that the Fed will just keep going".

At 1003 GMT, the dollar index was down 0.3 percent at 76.442, near a 10-month low of 76.259 hit the previous day. It has support at about 76.00, roughly where a trendline from lows in July 2008 and November 2009 now lies. If it breaks that, the next target is the November low at 74.17.

The dollar reversed a brief recovery during Asian trade when investors trimmed short positions.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.4093 EUR=, having hit a high for the day of $1.4113, just shy of an eight-month peak of $1.4123 hit on Thursday.

Upside targets for the euro include a late January high at $1.4195 and then $1.4374, the 76.4 percent retracement of the euro's slide from its November 2009 peak down to a trough hit in June.

"Bernanke should give some indication of the shape and size of the stimulus. If either that or the inflation numbers disappoint then the dollar will definitely go lower," said Ankita Dudani, currency strategist at RBS. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ "Currencies: Race to the Bottom" PDF: ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>


Analysts said a sustained dollar rebound seems unlikely at this point.

"I think that might be pretty hard, at least until the FOMC," said Koji Fukaya, chief currency strategist at Credit Suisse Securities in Tokyo, referring to the Fed's policy meeting in November.

In contrast to the Fed's hints at QE, the European Central Bank has stood firm on plans for an exit from extraordinarily loose monetary policy. Data on Tuesday showed more expensive fuel boosted euro zone inflation in September, though core inflation stayed subdued. [ID:nBRLFLE67B]

The Australian dollar was up 0.1 percent at $0.9954, having hit a 28-year peak just short of parity at $0.9994 on Thursday.

The U.S. Treasury Department is also expected to issue a report on the currency practices of other countries on Friday. The U.S. administration faces a tough call on whether to label China a currency manipulator, a move that could throw a wrench into Sino-U.S. relations. [ID:nN14134313]

The dollar dipped 0.3 percent to 81.20 yen JPY=. It hit a 15-year low of 80.88 yen on Thursday, only about 1 yen above its record low of 79.75 yen set in April 1995, keeping the market nervous about the possibility of more Japanese intervention to curb yen strength.

Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Friday Japan would continue to take decisive steps on currencies regardless of Group of Seven or G20 meetings. [ID:nTOE69E00B] (Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Tokyo; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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