FOREX-Dollar steady ahead of Fed policy decision; upside seen
* Dollar index steady but jobs data weighs * Traders trim bearish dollar bets before Fed decision * Markets priced for Fed leaving stimulus intact until 2014 * Euro up slightly after solid euro zone sentiment data By Julie Haviv NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The dollar held steady against a basket of major world currencies in thin trade on Wednesday, with investors wary of taking bold positions before a post-policy meeting statement from the Federal Reserve. The dollar dropped after private sector jobs data emboldened expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus of bond purchases status quo well into next year. The ADP National Employment Report showed U.S. companies hired 130,000 workers this month, below the 150,000 forecasted by economists polled by Reuters. The Fed is expected to maintain its $85 billion per month bond-buying campaign when it concludes a two-day meeting later on Wednesday. It may point to softer readings on the U.S. economy to signal the policy will be extended into 2014. The Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's policy-setting arm, will announce its decision at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT). Data showing U.S. consumer prices rose modestly in September but showed little sign of underlying inflation was viewed as giving the Fed scope to maintain its monthly bond purchases. "The private sector jobs data reflects a labor market that shifted to lower gear in recent months and feeds into forecasts that the Fed will hold off on tapering until late in the first quarter of 2014," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington D.C. A majority of U.S. primary dealers polled by Reuters last week said the Fed would not start cutting monthly bond purchases until next March. "The dollar has sold off so much in recent weeks that the bias is for a stronger dollar if the Fed is not overly dovish this afternoon," he said. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six currencies but is dominated by the euro, traded flat at 79.580 , below an eight-day peak of 79.692 earlier in the global session but well above Friday's nine-month low of 78.998. Analysts said expectations of a delay to Fed tapering, probably until at least March, may be already priced into the dollar, prompting investors who sold the U.S. currency in recent days to start buying it back. "With the Fed event risk people don't want to enter new short positions," said Chris Turner, head of currency strategy at ING. However, he said the dollar was likely to turn weaker after the Fed announcement, potentially pushing the euro beyond its recent highs, unless policymakers stressed the economic impact of this month's U.S. government shutdown would be temporary. The euro, meanwhile, turned slightly higher after data showed a jump in euro zone sentiment in October, which offset figures revealing an unexpected rise in the German jobless total. The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.3754, having backed off a 23-month peak of $1.3832 set on Friday. Traders said the euro's failure to make a sustained break above $1.3800 left it vulnerable to a correction. Nevertheless, the euro remained supported by comments on Tuesday by European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny, who said he saw no tools the central bank could use to dampen a strengthening euro. Against the yen, the dollar was flat at 98.22 yen, having earlier hit a one-week high of 98.31 yen. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was up 0.3 percent at $0.9502, recovering from an earlier 2-1/2 week low of $0.9459 after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens said the currency was "unusually high".
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