May 7, 2019 / 4:19 AM / 12 days ago

FOREX-Dollar keeps to tight ranges, Aussie in focus ahead of RBA decision

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO, May 7 (Reuters) - The dollar remained not far off a five-week low against the yen on Tuesday, after worries about U.S.-China trade tensions rekindled fears about the outlook for global growth.

The Australian dollar rose versus the U.S. currency as investors’ immediate focus turned to an imminent rate decision by Australia’s central bank.

The greenback kept largely to familiar ranges against most major peers, even as comments from top U.S. trade officials that China had moved away from trade-related commitments weighed on U.S. bond yields and stock futures.

The dollar index against a basket of six rivals was a shade lower at 97.436, having ending the previous session nearly flat.

“From China’s perspective, a break up in negotiations isn’t really favourable for the domestic economy. I think they want to get a deal one way or the other,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities.

While there had been talk that Washington and Beijing might reach a trade deal this week, it is likely the negotiations will take a bit more time, he added.

Against the yen, the dollar was down a tenth of a percent at 110.63 yen. It had brushed a five-week low of 110.285 yen per dollar during the previous session.

The Japanese currency tends to benefit during geopolitical or financial stress as Japan is the world’s biggest creditor nation.

Late on Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said China had moved away from commitments made over the course of trade negotiations.

Lighthizer said his office would probably put out a notice on Tuesday about a proposed increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent.

Futures for the S&P 500 fell following the remarks. U.S. 10-year Treasury bond yields hit their lowest since May 1.

The Aussie was up 0.1 percent at $0.6995 ahead of the policy decision of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

That still put it near a four-month low hit on Monday, when it dropped more than half a percent following the resurgence of Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

Still, the Aussie’s drop in response to the renewed tensions between Beijing and Washington had been relatively muted, said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities.

“The market has already priced in more than two cuts by the RBA in the next year. Speculative short positions have already piled up to a relatively large amount,” Yamamoto said.

“That’s why the reaction to the negative news has been relatively limited.”

A slim majority of economists polled by Reuters expected the RBA to keep rates at a record low of 1.50 percent, though calls for an easing have grown louder after disappointingly weak first-quarter inflation.

The dollar moved largely in familiar trading ranges against other units. The euro and sterling both booked a modest gain against the dollar, changing hands at $1.1206 and $1.3119 , respectively. (Editing by Sam Holmes and Jacqueline Wong)

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