* Greenback bounces after stronger-than-expected U.S. CPI data
* Caution ahead of Fed meeting, concerns about Iraq crisis
* Aussie drops after unexpectedly dovish RBA minutes
* Sterling backs off five-year highs; BOE minutes awaited (Updates market action, changes byline, dateline, previous LONDON)
By Richard Leong
NEW YORK, June 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar rose on Tuesday as news of a stronger-than-expected pickup in inflation supported the view the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates sooner than some traders had thought.
Weaker price growth has hurt global growth. Earlier this month, the European Central Bank lowered a key rate into negative territory in an effort to avert deflation that could hobble the euro zone economy for years.
U.S. central bankers in the meantime began a two-day meeting where analysts expect they will further pare their bond purchase program and show no inclination to hike policy rates until the second half of 2015.
“If the Fed decides to be less dovish, that could give a bid to the dollar,” said Sebastien Galy, currency strategist at Societe Generale in New York.
On Tuesday, the government said the U.S. consumer price index, its broadest inflation gauge, rose 0.4 percent in May for its biggest increase in more than year.
The inflation news was mitigated by weaker-than-expected figures on domestic housing starts and lingering concerns about the fighting in Iraq and a gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, limiting the rise in the dollar, analysts said.
The greenback gained 0.35 percent against the yen at 102.19 yen, while the euro weakened 0.24 percent against the dollar at $1.3542.
The rise in the U.S. currency coincided with a rise in U.S bond yields in the wake of the surprisingly strong CPI report. The yield on two-year Treasuries earlier hit 0.488 percent, its highest since early April.
Among other currencies, the Australian dollar was set for its biggest drop against the greenback in over two weeks after the minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia expressed doubts as to whether the RBA had done enough to stimulate the economy.
The Aussie was 0.67 percent lower at $0.9337.
Sterling retreated from a five-year high against the dollar in the wake of below-forecast U.K. inflation numbers. They stemmed its recent surge on rising expectations the Bank of England could raise interest rates before year-end.
The pound was 0.1 percent lower against both the dollar and euro at $1.6986 and 79.83 pence respectively.
Traders said it may take a strong message from BOE minutes from its last policy meeting due Wednesday to shift the sterling back above $1.70.
“This recent inflation data will put a small dent in expectations for a rate hike this year,” Alex Edwards, head of the corporate desk at currency transfer platform UKForex in London.
The pound had gained more than 1 percent, taking it briefly above $1.70 for the first time since 2009 after BOE Governor Mark Carney warned last Thursday the bank might raise rates earlier than markets had previously believed. (Additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and James Dalgleish)