* Dollar sets 6-week high vs yen
* Fed downplays weak Q1 economic growth in policy statement
* Aussie dollar touches lowest in nearly 4 months
SINGAPORE, May 4 The dollar hit a six-week high
against the yen on Thursday, after the U.S. Federal Reserve
downplayed weak first-quarter economic growth and was seen as
leaving the door open to raising interest rates in June.
The Fed kept interest rates unchanged at its two-day policy
meeting on Wednesday and emphasized the strength of the labour
market in its subsequent statement - a sign it was still on
track for two more rate rises this year.
The central bank said consumer spending continued to be
solid, business investment had firmed, and inflation had been
"running close" to its target.
The dollar rose 0.1 percent to 112.84 yen. The
greenback touched 112.86 yen at one point in early Asian trade,
its highest level in more than six weeks.
"Although there's no clear signal for a June hike in the
statement, the door is wide open for a move," Imre Speizer,
senior markets strategist for Westpac, said in a note.
Barring an exceptional surprise, the statement "will leave
the market feeling confident the Fed will go," he added.
The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.0892, regaining a
bit of ground after falling 0.4 percent on Wednesday and edging
away from a 5-1/2 month high of $1.0951 set last week.
On Wednesday, the dollar also rose against currencies such
as the Swiss franc, sterling and the Canadian dollar.
"There's been some dollar-buying globally," said Satoshi
Okagawa senior global markets analyst at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking
However, there is still uncertainty as to whether the
economy is really on track for the Fed to raise interest rates
twice more this year and to begin reducing its balance sheet,
either in late 2017 or next year, Okagawa added.
Investors are awaiting Friday's monthly U.S. non-farm
payrolls report for greater signs of the Fed's likely rate hike
trajectory through the end of the year. Economists polled by
Reuters expect U.S. employers to have added 185,000 jobs in
April, up from 98,000 in March.
The Institute for Supply Management said its index of
non-manufacturing activity (services) rose to 57.5 April from
55.2 in March, handily beating expectations of 55.8 from a
Reuters poll of 64 economists.
Private employers expanded employment by 177,000 jobs
last month, payrolls processor ADP reported on Wednesday. While
that was the smallest gain since October, it roughly matched
expectations of economists surveyed by Reuters.
The Australian dollar nursed its losses after tumbling 1.5
percent on Wednesday, its biggest one-day percentage drop since
The Aussie dollar held steady at $0.7424, having
slipped to as low as $0.7420 in the wake of the Fed's policy
statement, its lowest in nearly four months.
(Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Eric Meijer)