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FOREX-Dollar bounce falters in Asia as Fed shock fades

* Dollar jumped after Fed minutes less dovish than some expected

* Bounce fails to extend in Asia despite risk-off mood in equities

* Thai protest movement begins to weigh on baht

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020 tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E

SINGAPORE, Aug 20 (Reuters) - The dollar clung to gains on Thursday, after minutes from last month’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting gave few clues about whether an even more dovish shift in its policy framework is possible in the autumn, disappointing some dollar bears.

A heavily shorted greenback put on its biggest one-day surge since March after the release, hitting 93.159 against a basket of currencies, about 1% above Tuesday’s two-year trough.

But in the wash up, it couldn’t extend the bounce, and other majors mostly nursed their losses during the Asia session with little spillover from a sharp sell down in equities.

Exceptions included the Korean won, which dropped 0.4% along with a tumble on the Kospi share index, and the Thai baht, which hit a three-week low of 31.44 per dollar as investors started to worry about anti-government protests.

Speculation has been rife the Fed will adopt an average inflation target, and seek to push inflation above 2% to make up for years it has run below, or look to cap government bond yields as part of a broader policy review.

The minutes were vague on the matters and merely said “a number” of Fed members thought it would be helpful to make a revised statement on its policy strategy at some point, without providing details or timing.

After hitting an 18-month high of $0.7275 before the meeting, the Australian dollar fell back below 72 cents and last sat at $0.7185. The New Zealand dollar dropped almost 1.3% from its intraday high to sit at $0.6567.

The euro - the most stretched of all recent gainers on the greenback - fell back below $1.19 and last sat at $1.1849 . The pound was dumped back to $1.3106 and the dollar jumped about 0.7% on the yen to 106.00.

“Traders were hoping (the minutes) would cement a clear consensus in the Fed’s ranks for a series of key changes in the 18 September meeting,” said Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne.

“(But) there seems little consensus in the Fed collective to adopt an inflation-targeting regime, which is what so many have positioned for.”

BOUNCE OR BREATHER?

The dollar’s rebound pulls it back to more or less flat for the month so far against a basket of currencies.

But the fact that the bounce didn’t carry on in Asia, even when the stock market mood soured, suggests plenty of investors reckon the slide that has sent it down by 10% since March has still got further to run.

Short bets against the world’s reserve currency had risen to their largest since 2011 last week and long bets on the euro were at a record high.

“We mainly view yesterday’s movement as the market taking a breather on dollar weakness,” said OCBC Bank strategist Terence Wu in Singapore.

“The retracement has yet to breach significant technical levels...we are sceptical about the shelf-life of this bounce.”

Commonwealth Bank of Australia shares that view and upped its forecasts for the Aussie, kiwi and pound this year and now thinks the euro can hit $1.26 by September 2021.

The Fed minutes also sounded pretty gloomy about the economic outlook, and will be ringing in investors’ ears as they await the Philadelphia Fed business index at 1230 GMT - especially following a weak reading from New York on Monday.

For the Fed itself, the focus now shifts to whether more will be revealed at the Aug. 27-28 virtual Jackson Hole symposium or at September’s meeting.

Elsewhere the Chinese yuan was steady after China kept benchmark interest rates steady, as expected. It last changed hands at 6.9218 per dollar in onshore trade.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook. Chart by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

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