(Adds table, comments, details, byline) By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Speculators boosted net long bets on the dollar for a third straight week on expectations of multiple U.S. rate hikes by the Federal Reserve this year, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and calculations by Reuters. The value of the dollar's net long position was $25.43 billion in the week ended Jan. 3, up from $24.17 billion the week before. This week's net long dollar position was the highest since the week of Dec. 13. There is much cause for dollar optimism especially in the wake of a December U.S. jobs report that finally showed wage growth. Lackluster earnings and low inflation have prevented the Fed from raising interest rates and the rise in December wages suggested that the U.S. economy was nearing full employment, analysts said. That should keep the Fed on track to raise interest rates as much as three times this year. The non-farm payrolls report is one in a series of economic numbers showing steady improvement of the U.S. economy. "We wouldn't be surprised to see some hawkish Fed talk this week, with the intention of preparing markets for the prospects of a first quarter rate hike," said ING in a research note. "Strong U.S. inflation and growth data over the next month will likely see the reflationary uptick in U.S. yields continue and this means a dollar buy-on-dips strategy remains attractive." Meanwhile, net short contracts on the yen slipped to 86,764, after rising for nine straight weeks. The yen is tied to the dollar's fortunes overall, and stands to benefit the most should an overextended U.S. currency falter. Kathy Lien, managing director FX strategy at BK Asset Management in New York, expects the dollar to consolidate in the 115-117.50 yen range. "The Fed isn't going to be raising interest rates anytime soon so for the time being, gains for the overstretched dollar could be limited but at the same time, pullbacks ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration should be shallow," she added. The Reuters calculation for the aggregate U.S. dollar position is derived from net positions of International Monetary speculators in the yen, euro, British pound, Swiss franc and Canadian and Australian dollars. Japanese Yen (Contracts of 12,500,000 yen) $9.211 billion 03 Jan 2017 Prior week week Long 37,962 40,565 Short 124,726 127,574 Net -86,764 -87,009 EURO (Contracts of 125,000 euros) $9.111 billion 03 Jan 2017 Prior week week Long 129,701 123,281 Short 199,757 192,689 Net -70,056 -69,408 POUND STERLING (Contracts of 62,500 pounds sterling) $4.952 billion 03 Jan 2017 Prior week week Long 55,482 50,062 Short 120,224 107,161 Net -64,742 -57,099 SWISS FRANC (Contracts of 125,000 Swiss francs) $1.636 billion 03 Jan 2017 Prior week week Long 11,813 14,303 Short 25,252 24,394 Net -13,439 -10,091 CANADIAN DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 Canadian dollars) $0.288 billion 03 Jan 2017 Prior week week Long 39,546 36,597 Short 43,417 38,195 Net -3,871 -1,598 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 Aussie dollars) $0.235 billion 03 Jan 2017 Prior week week Long 47,948 44,076 Short 51,204 45,586 Net -3,256 -1,510 MEXICAN PESO (Contracts of 500,000 pesos) $1.555 billion 03 Jan 2017 Prior week week Long 22,279 21,411 Short 87,915 83,068 Net -65,636 -61,657 NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 New Zealand dollars) $0.789 billion 03 Jan 2017 Prior week week Long 25,522 25,448 Short 36,935 36,449 Net -11,413 -11,001 (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Andrew Hay and Lisa Shumaker)
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