* Dollar backs away from 9-month high vs yen
* OPEC-driven surge in oil prices lifted U.S. yields and
* Euro capped by concerns over Italy's referendum
* Graphic: World FX rates in 2016 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
(Updates prices, adds quotes)
By Patrick Graham
LONDON, Dec 1 The dollar traded just off a
9-1/2-month high against the yen on Thursday, steadying after a
jump along with U.S. bond yields on the details of a deal to cut
OPEC oil output.
The majority of banks remain focused on the prospect of more
gains for the U.S. currency, anticipating that president-elect
Donald Trump's mix of tax cuts, spending and trade shifts will
raise growth and price pressures in the United States.
But the dollar's failure to push on strongly against the
euro - again back above $1.06 in early European trade -
hints there may be some fatigue in a rally that dates back two
months and has deepened since Trump's victory on Nov. 8.
"You see some brokers on the street with forecasts of parity
or below parity (to the euro). For us it is unlikely we will get
much more strength," said Constantin Bolz, director for currency
strategy with the chief investment office of UBS in Zurich.
"The Fed is likely to hike interest rates next month and the
market has fully priced that in, along with roughly two rate
hikes next year. Now are we really likely to get three or four?"
The dollar's index against a basket of six major currencies
last stood at 101.42, having risen as high as
101.83 and off 13-1/2-year peak of 102.05 set last week.
It retreated to 114.17, down a quarter of a percent on the
day from a peak of 114.83 yen hit in Asian time, its strongest
level since mid-February.
Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead
the U.S. Treasury, gave no hint of any unease over the strong
dollar in his first remarks since being named for the job,
giving traders fresh impetus to buy the U.S. currency.
Oil prices jumped around 9 percent on Wednesday as OPEC
members agreed to cut production for the first time since 2008
and the dominant reaction was through U.S. Treasury yields,
which peaked just below new highs of 2.40 percent.
Higher Treasury yields in turn have been at the heart of the
"I think it is just a matter of time (before) the dollar
will test 115 yen after Mnuchin was silent about the dollar's
strength," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at
Speculative investors have laid substantial bets on losses
for the euro around Italy's referendum on Sunday, which could
reject Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's constitutional reforms and
force his resignation.
His departure could destabilise Italy's fragile banking
system and be taken as another sign of rising anti-establishment
sentiment in Europe, potentially eroding investor confidence in
the currency union.
But options market pricing suggests the euro may not get any
lower than last year's lows around $1.0458.
"If there is a 'no' vote, I would expect some negative
reaction in the market. I would expect some negative reaction
from the euro, but our view is that it will be much more
contained," said Jim McDonald, chief investment strategist for
U.S.-based asset manager Northern Trust.
"The good news is that this may be a negative outcome that
the market is actually ready for, as opposed to being surprised
by both Brexit and Trump's victory," McDonald added.
For Reuters new Live Markets blog on European and UK stock
markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets
(Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano in TOKYO; Editing by