* Upbeat U.S. retail sales halt slide in U.S. yields, turn USD around
* Yen & Australian dollar among biggest casualties
By Ian Chua
SYDNEY, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The yen and Australian dollar nursed heavy losses early on Wednesday, having suffered a swift turnaround in fortunes as a shakeout in long dollar positions came to an abrupt end following upbeat U.S. retail sales data.
Traders said the retail numbers helped offset Friday’s disappointingly soft payrolls and halted a two-day slide in U.S. Treasury yields. That in turn gave the greenback a shot in the arm.
The dollar rallied more than 1 percent against the yen to 104.29, pulling away from a near one-month trough of 102.85 plumbed Monday. It also scaled a four-year peak on its Canadian counterpart to C$1.0960.
Also helping underpin the dollar, two of the Federal Reserve’s most hawkish policymakers who take up voting power this year said the central bank should bring its bond-buying program to a swift close.
Fickle investors quickly brought forward the likely timing of the first Fed rate hike to August 2015 , having only just pushed it out towards the back end of 2015 in the wake of Friday’s jobs numbers.
“As a result, the USD came back to life and managed to regain ground against the majors,” said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne.
“The greenback was well bid across the board and perhaps the biggest move was in USD/JPY. This should help resuscitate the Nikkei today.”
However, the greenback struggled against the euro, which edged up to a two-week high just shy of $1.3700 before steadying at $1.3671. The common currency also rallied more than 1 percent on the yen to 142.57.
Another standout currency was the Australian dollar, which slid nearly 1 percent to $0.8965, reversing a move towards 91 U.S. cents early in the week.
There has been little conviction to push the Aussie higher despite a 14-plus percent drop in 2013 as the country’s central bank maintain an easing bias and is encouraging a lower currency to spur the economy.
Traders said any strength in the Aussie was due more to investors covering short positions rather than turning bullish on the currency.
The focus in Asia on Wednesday is likely to be on equities amid an absence of major market moving data. Among emerging market currencies, Indian inflation data will be in focus .