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Wednesday September 4, 2013 - 01:02:25 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS - Dollar firm after U.S. data backs expected turn in Fed policy

8:17pm EDT

* Yen treads water as BOJ begins 2-day meeting

* Aussie steady ahead of Australia Q2 GDP report

By Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - - The dollar was on a firm footing in early Asian trading on Wednesday, with the dollar index not far from a six-week peak after U.S. data reinforced expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin reducing its stimulus soon.

However, caution ahead of this week's central bank meetings as well as the possibility of a U.S. military strike on Syria were likely to keep major currency pairs in recent ranges, market participants said.

The dollar index , which tracks the unit's performance against a basket of six major currencies, rose to 82.516 on Tuesday, its highest since July 22. It last traded at 82.363, up slightly on the day.

The dollar was buying 99.57 yen, also up a tad, after hitting a one-month high of 99.86 yen on Tuesday and gaining more than 1 percent on Monday.

The U.S. manufacturing sector grew last month at its fastest pace in more than two years, data showed on Tuesday, while construction spending rose in July.

The data provided more evidence to support market expectations that the Fed will begin tapering its stimulus at its policy meeting on Sept. 17-18, unless U.S. payroll numbers due on Friday fall short of forecasts.

Economists polled by Reuters estimate U.S. payrolls expanded by 180,000 jobs in August while the unemployment rate remained steady at 7.4 percent.

The Bank of Japan was slated to begin its two-day meeting on Wednesday, at which it was expected to maintain the massive monetary stimulus it launched in April, which will nearly double the monetary base to 270 trillion yen by the end of 2014 to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.

The BOJ will consider further monetary easing if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decides to raise the sales tax as planned to 8 percent from 5 percent in April, the Asahi newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing several sources.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday that Japan will tell G20 nations at a summit this week that it will proceed with a planned two-stage sales tax hike, and consider compiling an extra budget for fiscal spending to ease the pain on the economy.

"I think the BOJ would like to take new actions, to give some expectations to the market, but the Japanese economy remains steady, so for now, they will not act," said Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo.

"Everyone is cautious about Syria, which is keeping dollar/yen in a range for now. Action there could weigh on the dollar, so nobody wants to make big moves now," he added.

President Barack Obama won the backing of key figures in the U.S. Congress, including top Republicans, in his call for limited U.S. strikes on Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Central banks in the euro zone, the UK and Canada will also meet this week.

The euro stayed near Tuesday's low of $1.3173, its lowest since late July, and was last trading flat on the day at $1.3168 ,

Australia's second quarter gross domestic product report is due out later on Wednesday. The figures are likely to underscore sub-par growth, justifying the Reserve Bank of Australia's recent move to cut its cash rate to a record low 2.5 percent and keep the door open to more easing.

The RBA held rates steady on Tuesday.

The Australian dollar was trading at $0.9058, nearly flat from the previous day's levels and holding well above August's three-year low around $0.8848.

Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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