April 26, 2019 / 11:19 AM / 4 months ago

REFILE-FOREX-Euro hovers near 23-month lows as dollar bulls eye U.S. GDP data

(Adds dropped word ‘gained’ in paragraph 4)

* Traders wait for U.S. GDP after strong data run

* Analysts say Spanish election in focus for euro

* Most currencies calm after earlier rise in volatility

* Swedish crown, Aussie recover from lows

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

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - The euro hovered near its weakest level since May 2017 on Friday as traders waited to see whether United States GDP numbers due out later will reinforce signs of economic strength and send the dollar surging even higher.

After a small rise in volatility this week - albeit from multi-year lows - currency markets turned calm on Friday, with most major pairs stuck in tight trading ranges.

The dollar index versus a basket of six major currencies inched lower to 98.164 after hitting 98.322 on Thursday, its highest since May 2017.

The euro gained marginally to $1.1134.

Data at 1230 GMT is expected to show that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.0 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. That follows strong capital goods numbers on Thursday.

“This week’s break in EUR/USD below $1.1200 has largely been a dollar story. Over the next few days, however, focus could return to Europe,” ING analysts wrote in a note to clients, citing Sunday’s Spanish election, an S&P credit rating review of Italian sovereign debt, and possible French economic reforms.

Many analysts have been surprised at the strength of the dollar after the Federal Reserve paused its interest rate hiking cycle at the start of 2019.

That was followed by other policymakers delaying tightening plans, with the Riksbank the latest to do so on Thursday, sending the Swedish crown to 17-year lows. The crown recovered half a percent versus the dollar on Friday to 9.4955, with similarly sized gains against the euro to 10.5730 crowns .

Morgan Stanley analysts said dollar weakness was “delayed but not canceled.”

“Nevertheless, economic data suggest that our anticipated USD decline may be delayed by a quarter or even longer should the US administration impose tariffs on European autos in May,” they said.

The yen slipped slightly on Friday to 111.77 yen per dollar, after weakening overnight following the Bank of Japan putting a time frame on its forward guidance for the first time.

The BoJ investors that it would keep interest rates at super-low levels for at least one more year, in a move aimed at dispelling any doubt over its commitment to ultra-loose policies.

The Australian dollar, which this week hit a four-month low as soft inflation data boosted the prospect of a rate cut, rose as much as 0.4 percent to $0.7045.

The New Zealand dollar gained half a percent to$0.6659 on increased optimism about the economy.

Sterling, hurt this week by dollar strength and concerns Brexit talks between the ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties had run into the sand, clawed itself back above $1.29.

Editing by Hugh Lawson

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