FOREX-Dollar holds firm vs euro; Aussie off lows after China GDP

Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:34pm EST

Related Topics

* Euro touches 2-month low vs dollar

* Aussie dollar steadies after setting 3-1/2 year low

* China's Q4 GDP +7.7 pct y/y vs +7.6 pct in Reuters poll

* U.S. markets closed on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. day

By Ian Chua and Masayuki Kitano

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, Jan 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar set a two-month high versus the euro on Monday, having enjoyed a solid comeback last week after a string of mostly upbeat data convinced markets the Federal Reserve will continue its gradual withdrawal of stimulus.

The beleaguered Australian dollar got a bit of relief after China's annual economic growth in the October-December quarter of 2013 came in at 7.7 percent, down from 7.8 percent in the previous three months but slightly ahead of market expectations for growth of 7.6 percent.

"It's not a particularly good number but there wasn't any drop to levels below the 7.5 percent threshold," said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

While the data might have spurred some short-covering in the Australian dollar, the impetus is unlikely to be strong enough to prompt traders to go long the Aussie dollar, he added.

The Australian dollar edged up 0.1 percent on the day to $0.8790. The Aussie, which had been hit by weak jobs data at home last week, fell to $0.8756 earlier on Monday, its lowest level in about 3-1/2 years.

Traders said the 87 U.S. cent area should provide good support, like it did back in 2010, although a break could see it test $0.8600 in a hurry.

The euro eased versus the U.S. dollar, slipping 0.1 percent to about $1.3530. The euro fell to $1.3508 earlier on Monday, its lowest level against the greenback in nearly two months.

Data on Friday showed U.S. industrial output rose at its fastest clip in 3-1/2 years in the fourth quarter, adding to other encouraging reports such as retail sales.

Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker on Friday said signs of an improving labour market justified further reductions in the Fed's monthly bond purchases.

Against the yen, the dollar slipped 0.3 percent to around 104.03 yen. The dollar has retreated since rising to a five-year high of 105.45 yen in early January, having fallen to 102.85 yen on Jan. 13, its lowest level in about a month.

There is some caution about the dollar's near-term outlook against the yen in the wake of the greenback's recent rally, said Adam Gilmour, head of FX and derivatives sales Asia-Pacific for Citigroup in Singapore.

"I can tell you from my discussions with a lot of investors last week, everybody was talking about how the whole market is long dollar/yen," Gilmour said.

"People are still bullish dollar/yen, but they think it's gone too far, too fast," he added.

The yen also pushed higher on some of the crosses, with the euro shedding 0.3 percent to 140.74 yen. Earlier on Monday, the euro touched a six-week low versus the yen at 140.33 yen.

Trading volumes could be dampened by a holiday in the United States on Monday.

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