4 Min Read
* Dollar index holds above recent 8-week low
* Solid U.S. private-sector hiring lifts hope for nonfarm payrolls
* Aussie dollar falls after RBA's Stevens warns on currency strength (Adds comments, updates prices)
By Ian Chua and Masayuki Kitano
SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, July 3 (Reuters) - The dollar held firm above a recent eight-week low on Thursday, supported by hopes for a healthy rise in nonfarm payrolls, while the Aussie fell after Australia's central bank chief warned that markets are underestimating the risk of a sharp fall in the currency.
Figures from U.S. payrolls processor ADP released on Wednesday added to a string of bullish U.S. data ranging from manufacturing to auto sales, supporting the view that the U.S. economy has bounced back smartly after a first-quarter slump.
Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields rose to the highest in over a week at 2.63 percent on Wednesday in reaction to the data, which in turned helped lift the dollar against a basket of major currencies.
The dollar index inched up about 0.1 percent to 79.999 , having pulled up from an eight-week trough of 79.740 plumbed on Tuesday.
Against the yen, the greenback rose 0.1 percent to 101.87 yen, having only recently hit a six-week low near 101.23.
ADP said private employers added 281,000 workers to payrolls last month, the largest since November 2012, offering hopes for a healthy rise in nonfarm payrolls when the data is released later on Thursday.
"Our economists agree with market consensus looking for non-farm payrolls to rise by more than 200,000 for a fifth consecutive month," analysts at BNP Paribas wrote in a note to clients.
"If the forecast turns out to be correct, this will mark the first five-month run of above 200,000 prints since January 2000."
The euro eased 0.1 percent to $1.3648. The single currency hovered below a six-week high of $1.3701 set earlier this week, as the market turned its focus to a meeting by the European Central Bank later on Thursday, as well as the U.S. jobs data.
The ECB is unlikely to take fresh policy action at its July gathering after cutting interest rates to record lows last month - the deposit rate to below zero - and revealing a 400 billion-euro ($545.62 billion) loan programme.
"Although no action is expected from the ECB at its meeting today, we anticipate that it will maintain its dovish tone in the face of weak PMI prints, low inflation, and weak bank lending," said analysts at BNP Paribas.
The Australian dollar fell 0.7 percent to $0.9377. The Aussie pulled further away from an eight-month peak of $0.9505 set on Tuesday, coming under pressure after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens warned investors they were underestimating the risk of a significant fall in the Australian dollar.
A weak reading on Australian retail sales also added to the already soft tone of the Aussie dollar, which had retreated on Wednesday on profit-taking in the wake of disappointing Australian trade data.
The Aussie's drop below $0.9400 triggered stop-loss selling, said Jeffrey Halley, FX trader for Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore.
"Basically, Governor Stevens timed his talking down of the Australian dollar perfectly to coincide with a soft market," Halley said.
While the Aussie may find some support at levels around $0.9370 and $0.9355, a drop to $0.9300 is now on the cards, Halley added. (Additional reporting by Naomi Tajitsu in Wellington; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)