October 14, 2016 / 5:35 AM / in 9 months

FOREX-Dollar on track for weekly gain as investors await Yellen

4 Min Read

* U.S. retail sales data, Boston Fed conference in spotlight

* Expectations of December Fed hike lift greenback

* Sterling slips, poised for losses in Brexit-roiled week

TOKYO, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The dollar rose on Friday, on track for a weekly gain though shy of this week's highs, as investors awaited U.S. retail sales data and remarks from Federal Reserve officials that could cement expectations of a U.S. interest rate hike this year.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rival currencies, added 0.3 percent to 97.812.

That was below a seven-month high of 98.129 touched on Thursday, but still up 1 percent for the week, and more than 2 percent for the month so far.

Retail sales data could offer some insight on the strength of consumption. Following the data, Fed Chair Janet Yellen will address a Boston Fed economics conference, at which Boston Fed governor Eric Rosengren will also speak.

The minutes of the latest Fed meeting in September, released on Wednesday, prompted investors to raise their bets of a Fed rate increase at its December policy meeting. Markets are now pricing in around a 70 percent chance that the Fed will move.

"There were three dissents, but the market has been jawboned into believing the Fed will raise rates in December," said Bill Northey, chief investment officer of the private client group at U.S. Bank in Helena, Montana.

Friday's Fed comments will likely offer "no material departures from that script," he said.

The dollar has also benefited as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton widened her lead in opinion polls over Republican rival Donald Trump, as Clinton is viewed as the candidate more likely preserve the status quo if elected.

But on Thursday, downbeat trade data from China took some wind out of the dollar's sails. Chinese exports fell 10 percent year-on-year last month, far more than expected.

Friday's Chinese data was more comforting for investors: September producer prices unexpectedly rose for the first time in nearly five years, while consumer inflation also beat expectations.

Against the yen, the dollar added 0.3 percent to 104.03 , shy of its overnight high of 104.62 yen, which was its strongest level since late July. It was up 1.1 percent for the week.

"Expectations of a Fed hike this year or next year aren't enough of an incentive to buy the dollar far above these levels," said Masashi Murata, currency strategist for Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo.

"It's kind of like a tug-of-war, so the current level around 104 might be the highest level today, and some market participants might try to sell the dollar against the yen ahead of the retail sales."

The euro slipped 0.3 percent to $1.1024, heading back toward its overnight low of $1.0982, its lowest level since late July. It was down 1.6 percent for the week.

Sterling skidded 0.5 percent at $1.2197, and looked set for a loss of 1.9 percent in a volatile week in which it moved back towards the previous week's 31-year lows.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's offer to involve lawmakers in the process of leaving the European Union has calmed some investors' fears of a "hard Brexit," though uncertainty over the impact of the move is likely to keep the pound under pressure. (Reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Kim Coghill and Eric Meijer)

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