FOREX-Dollar caught in ranges, bounces seen shortlived
* Dollar index above 77.00 but not advancing
* Dollar in consolidation mode vs euro, soft vs yen
* Aussie firm after RBA minutes
By Charlotte Cooper
TOKYO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The dollar lost ground in early Asian trade on Tuesday, giving up some of the gains scored after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the United States would not engage in dollar devaluation, with players seeing limited scope for now for significant advances.
The greenback was soft against the yen, holding within half a yen of its recent 15-year low, and flat against a basket of currencies as it tried to consolidate following a small rebound from a 10-month low set last week.
Geithner said no country including the United States could devalue its way to prosperity, that this was not a feasible strategy and the United States would not engage in it, and that the United States also needed to work hard to preserve confidence in a strong dollar. [ID:nN18287076]
Greg Gibbs, currency strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland in Sydney, said while the comments had given the dollar a bit of a boost, it was likely to be shortlived and the dollar would likely be moving in familiar ranges this week.
"The reasons for the dollar being weaker, principally that move towards QE, are still very valid, so any pullbacks are not going to be enormous," Gibbs said.
While the United States was not about to embark on a policy of trying to strengthen the dollar, it was also probably no coincidence that Geithner made such a comment after the dollar had fallen for a couple of months, which was stirring talk of competitive currency devaluations just when G20 leaders are preparing to meet.
"So you can imagine that the U.S. might think it's time to say or do something which helps stabilise the dollar for the near term," Gibbs said.
The dollar has fallen steeply as investors have anticipated more quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve, and after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday offered his most explicit signal yet that the Fed was about to move again. The main question now is how big the next round of QE might be.
The dollar index .DXY was steady at 77.096. Technical analysts say it needs to extend above its Oct. 12 high of 77.93 to signal a short-term bottom is in place after Friday's 10-month trough of 76.144.
The dollar was soft against the yen at 81.21 yen JPY=, edging back toward a 15-year low of 80.88 hit last week and hovering not far off a record low of 79.75 set in 1995.
The euro edged up 0.3 percent to $1.3980 EUR= but was still down from an eight-month high of $1.4161 set last week. It has support at $1.3825 and then the Oct. 12 low of $1.3775, with resistance around $1.40.
The Australian dollar AUD=D4 firmed 0.4 percent to $0.9932 from late U.S. trading on Monday, firming after the Reserve Bank of Australia's minutes from its on Oct. 5 meeting said the arguments to hold or hike rates were finely balanced.
The RBA judged it had the flexibility to keep interest rates unchanged in October as a rising local dollar was tightening monetary conditions, while domestic credit growth remained weak and global growth uncertain. (Editing by Chris Gallagher and Edmund Klamann)
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