FOREX-Dollar rises on prospect of Fed tightening and ECB easing

Thu May 16, 2013 9:42am BST

* Dollar rises, trades near highs versus euro, yen

* Euro zone inflation data could add to rate cut worries

* US Fed's Plosser reiterates need to slow asset purchases

* More Fed speakers due later; Aussie hits 11-month low

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - The dollar was near a six-week high against the euro and a 4-1/2 year peak against the yen on Thursday on prospects for more monetary easing in the euro zone and scaled back asset buying in the United States.

Final euro zone inflation data for April due at 0900 GMT is expected to be weak, reinforcing expectations the European Central Bank could cut interest rates, with the potential for it to opt for a negative deposit rate.

By contrast, Federal Reserve policymaker Charles Plosser again called for the central bank to cut asset purchases in a speech in Italy.

The euro fell 0.3 percent at $1.2846, near a six-week low of $1.2843 hit on Wednesday after data showed the euro zone contracted for a sixth consecutive quarter.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was up 0.1 percent at 83.935, hovering just shy of the 2012 peak of 84.10.

"The only thing driving currencies at the moment is that we are in an environment where stronger U.S. growth is positive for the dollar via the Fed tapering argument," said Adam Cole, global head of FX strategy at RBC.

But he said the dollar risked a correction given that at least some Fed policymakers due to speak later were more dovish and the possibility of weak U.S. inflation data and a business survey of the mid-Atlantic region later on Thursday.

Against the yen the dollar was up 0.15 percent at 102.41 yen, near a peak of 102.77 yen hit on Wednesday, its strongest since late 2008.

Traders reported Japanese importer buying and said investors were eager to buy dips in the dollar, which was expected to gain further while the yen continued to weaken in the wake of aggressive Japanese monetary easing announced in early April.

"People will be watching statements from officials today and Bernanke at the weekend very closely for hints on when they (the Federal Reserve) might exit," said Yoshio Takahashi, currency strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

Commodity currencies fell sharply, with the Australian dollar falling 1 percent to an 11-month low of $0.9806. The New Zealand dollar hit a six-month low of $0.8147.

RBC's Cole said when the dollar moved higher commodity-linked currencies tended to be the hardest hit because dollar strength often feeds through into commodity price weakness.

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