* Fed’s Dudley comments later in session awaited for cues
* Pound little changed, Aussie still in reach of 2-1/2-mth high
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, June 19 (Reuters) - The dollar steadied against a basket of currencies early on Monday after slipping on soft U.S. economic data, with investors awaiting comments by a top Federal Reserve official for clues on whether recent strength can be sustained.
The dollar index against a group of major currencies was down 0.05 percent at 97.108.
The index had climbed to a two-week high of 97.560 late the previous week after the Fed raised interest rates and kept the door open for another hike in 2017. But its rally was tempered by Friday’s weaker-than-expected housing and consumer sentiment data.
The market is looking to comments by New York Fed President William Dudley for potential support for the greenback. Dudley, a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen, is due to take part in a roundtable with local business leaders in Plattsburgh, New York.
“In the wake of Friday’s weak U.S. data, Dudley could provide insight into whether the Fed is still poised to continue normalising monetary policy,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.
“My view is that Dudley won’t sound too dovish, and thus allow the dollar’s gradual rise to resume.”
Dudley could help clarify why the Fed appeared to ignore a series of soft inflation readings as it marched on with tighter policy last week.
The dollar was up 0.1 percent at 110.955 yen. It had set a two-week peak of 111.420 on Friday before its U.S. data-induced retreat.
The euro was little changed at $1.1204 after gaining about 0.5 percent on Friday.
The pound was steady at $1.2777.
Sterling has been confined to a narrow range over the past few days as political and economic worries have been counterbalanced largely by a split in the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee on whether to immediately raise interest rates.
The Australian dollar was flat at $0.7617, still in reach of a 2-1/2-month high of $0.7636 scaled on Wednesday thanks to upbeat local employment data. (Editing by Richard Pullin)