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Tuesday September 23, 2014 - 00:11:55 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar rally pauses, Aussie vulnerable as China PMI looms

7:46pm EDT

* Dollar index holds below a four-year peak set on Monday

* Euro edges off a 14-month trough, Aussie falls below 89c

* Dovish BOC weighs on Canadian dollar

* All eyes on HSBC flash China PMI report due at 0145 GMT

By Ian Chua

SYDNEY, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered just below a four-year peak against a basket of major currencies early in Asia on Tuesday as the euro steadied near a 14-month trough with sellers taking a bit of a breather.

The dollar index last traded at 84.699, having peaked at 84.861 on Monday, a high not seen since July 2010. It has posted 10 straight weeks of gains as markets wagered U.S. rates would rise long before those in Europe or Japan.

The dollar's run even prompted New York Federal Reserve bank president William Dudley to caution that the gains could complicate the Fed's job, potentially hurting U.S. economic performance and pushing down inflation.

Dudley said while the value of the dollar is not a policy goal of the Fed's, it had to be taken "on board" as part of the central bank's economic forecast.

The euro squeezed up to $1.2849, having plumbed a fresh 14-month low of $1.2816, prompting some traders to suspect it might correct higher as key support near $1.2800 loomed.

But the bigger picture for a stronger greenback should remain intact thanks to the diverging interest rate views between the United States and its major counterparts including Europe and Japan.

European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi on Monday reiterated that the bank is ready to use additional unconventional tools if needed to spur growth.

Still, there is a healthy dose of scepticism that the ECB would launch a bond-buying stimulus program any time soon.

"Draghi is more likely to be teasing the market than making any firm commitments. Any unconventional measures need to be 'within our mandate' and the Buba would doubtless argue that government bond buying was outside it," analysts at National Australia Bank wrote in a note to clients.

"Still constructive ambiguity could suit Draghi at the moment as it puts downward pressure on the euro, which gives him some time to hope that deflationary forces ease."

Against the yen, the dollar was at 108.82 not far from a six-year high of 109.46 set on Friday. The euro fetched 139.85 yen, in the middle of this year's 135.73-145.08 range.

Commodity currencies have also been caught up in a downdraft against the greenback, with the Australian dollar particularly hard hit.

The Aussie skidded below 89 U.S. cents for the first time since early March, having shed nearly 5 percent so far this month. It was last at $0.8878.

Concerns about slowing Chinese growth and a big drop in the price of iron ore, Australia's top export earner, have conspired to undermine the currency. Chinese steel and iron ore futures fell to record lows on Monday.

The Aussie's near-term outlook hinges on the latest survey on China's manufacturing sector. HSBC's flash China PMI report is due at 0145 GMT. Forecasts centred on a reading of 50.0, down from 50.2.

The survey follows data showing China's factory output grew at the weakest pace in nearly six years in August. Any fresh disappointment will no doubt push the Aussie another step towards its 2014 trough of $0.8660 set in January.

The Canadian dollar was also under the pump in the wake of dovish comments from the central bank, which said interest rates may have to be lower than they have been historically for the economy to operate at full capacity.

Bank of Canada Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Wilkins went as far as saying the policy rate may need to be below neutral for some time, even after the output gap closed, to keep inflation on target.

The Canadian dollar fell to a one-week low of C$1.1045 per U.S. dollar early in Asia. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Thomson Reuters 2014. All rights reserved.


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