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FOREX-Dollar inches higher in holiday-thinned trade
December 27, 2016 / 9:00 AM / a year ago

FOREX-Dollar inches higher in holiday-thinned trade

* Bargain hunting helps dollar gain vs yen

* Little reaction to slip in Japan CPI

* Aussie, kiwi inch back towards 7-month lows (New throughout after start of European day)

By Patrick Graham

LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The dollar inched higher against the yen and a handful of other major currencies on Tuesday in trade curtailed by holidays in financial centres in Europe and Asia.

Going into the final week of 2017, the trend remains towards a stronger U.S. currency, although a 1 percent retreat for the greenback before Christmas suggested any attack on 120 yen and parity with the euro may have to wait until January.

Those bankers at their desks in continental Europe, with London on holiday, said they would be watching chiefly for any sign of a year-end squeeze in the cost for banks of borrowing dollars relative to other currencies.

Such costs - called the cross currency basis - have been rising and could support the dollar over the next few days. It was around 0.1 percent higher respectively at 117.23 yen and $1.0450 per euro by 0830 GMT.

“The rise in the euro dollar basis is an argument for dollar strength. Plus you have the fundamental factors going into the beginning of next year that point (that way),” said Lutz Karpowitz, a strategist with Commerzbank in London.

“But so far it really has been quiet.”

With Hong Kong and Sydney closed, there was little reaction in Asian time to Japanese inflation data, which saw core consumer prices mark the ninth straight month of annual declines in November.

The yen has fallen by almost a fifth in value since the start of November and some in Tokyo argue that a slowing of the rise in U.S. Treasury yields and concerns over President-elect Donald Trump’s relationship with China may support the Japanese currency going forward.

“Trump’s policies are understood to be conducive to inflation and a stronger currency. But a higher dollar would be a significant setback to the U.S. economy seemingly in the ending stages of an expansion,” wrote Makoto Noji, senior strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

“Therefore, the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve would have to stick to a cautious monetary policy stance to prevent the dollar from appreciating excessively. We thus expect a very gradual downtrend for dollar/yen.”

The Australian dollar was down 0.1 percent at $0.7187 , inching back towards a seven-month low of $0.7160 hit late last week on concerns over China’s economic growth.

The New Zealand dollar was steady at $0.6894, while sterling dipped 0.2 percent to $1.2269. (Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in TOKYO; editing by John Stonestreet)

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