* Dollar index steady, hovers above recent five-week low
* Aussie under pressure after previous day's RBA comments
* Fed policy decision, U.S. Q2 GDP due later on Wednesday
By Masayuki Kitano and Ian Chua
SINGAPORE/SYDNEY, July 31 The dollar held steady
versus a basket of currencies on Wednesday as investors stepped
cautiously ahead of a Federal Reserve policy review that could
see the central bank drive home a dovish message.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback's
performance against a basket of major currencies, held steady at
Investors had knocked the dollar index down to a five-week
trough of 81.499 earlier this week as they bet the Fed would
seek to reassure markets that interest rates would stay low for
a long time, even if it started scaling back stimulus this year.
The Fed will release a policy statement at 1800 GMT, but
there will be no news conference by Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Some analysts say the Fed's policy statement may reiterate
that any reduction to the central bank's monthly $85 billion
purchases of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities will
hinge on the economic outlook.
Market players say such tapering could start in September at
In a note, BNP Paribas analysts said they expect the
statement "to emphasise the data-contingent nature of the plan
rather than the provisional mid-2014 timeframe for ending
purchases" that Bernanke talked about in June.
"A data-dependent tapering programme is likely to be of
limited benefit for the dollar in the short-term, particularly
because U.S. data has been quite mixed at best, a pattern which
is likely to continue in the days ahead," they said.
U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) data due later on
Wednesday is expected to show growth slowed to an annualised
rate of just 1.0 percent in the second quarter, hardly a sign of
a runaway recovery.
The euro eased 0.1 percent to $1.3255, staying below
a six-week high near $1.3302 set on Tuesday on trading platform
The dollar eased 0.2 percent to 97.85 yen, nearing a
one-month low of 97.635 yen set on Monday.
The dollar's reaction to the Fed's post-meeting statement
may turn out to be limited, said Gareth Berry, G10 FX strategist
for UBS in Singapore, adding that the Fed will probably keep its
options open on the issue of when it may start tapering its bond
"We're not expecting any change to the text, nothing
material anyway," he said.
The likely outcome is "very much a wait-and-see kind of
statement where they reiterate previous messages that they're
watching data like the rest of us," Berry said.
A combination of U.S. GDP data and the ADP National
Employment Report due later on Wednesday as well as month-end
flows could end up having more impact on the dollar, he added.
The ADP survey of private sector hiring comes ahead of the
U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due on Friday.
The Australian dollar remained under pressure, with market
players seeing a strong chance of an interest rate cut next week
following dovish comments from the head of the Reserve Bank of
Australia on Tuesday.
The Australian dollar fell 0.4 percent to $0.9034,
not far from a 34-month trough just below 90 U.S. cents struck a
few weeks ago.
The Aussie dollar also retreated against the euro and hit a
three-year low of A$1.4711 per euro earlier on