June 27, 2014 / 5:30 AM / in 3 years

FOREX-Dollar drops as weak U.S. spending data pressures yields

* Dollar index slips on the day, on track for weekly loss

* U.S. consumer spending data tepid, suggest slower recovery

* New Zealand dollar hits three-year highs, eyes post-float peak

By Lisa Twaronite and Ian Chua

TOKYO/SYDNEY, June 27 (Reuters) - The dollar was poised to end the week with a whimper, dropping to a more than one-month low against the yen on Friday after downbeat U.S. spending data gave investors no reason to hope for higher U.S. rates anytime soon.

The New Zealand dollar, meanwhile, hovered at its highest in nearly three years as investors sought out higher-yielding currencies.

The latest U.S. consumer spending data released on Thursday fell short of expectations, and came close on the heels of this week’s steep downward revision to first-quarter growth.

The revision prompted some analysts to cut their forecasts for U.S. growth, and reinforced a view that the U.S. Federal Reserve should be in no hurry to tighten policy.

Against the yen, the dollar slipped about 0.3 percent to 101.42 yen after falling as low as 101.315 yen, its lowest since May 21, as U.S. yields scraped the bottom of their recent range.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield skidded to a three-week low of 2.511 percent in Asia and last stood at 2.517 percent, below Thursday’s U.S. close of 2.523 percent.

The yen’s gains were limited, though, as data on Friday showed that Japan’s household spending fell much more than expected in May after an increase in the domestic sales tax on April 1.

Other data showed Japan’s core consumer inflation eased slightly in May when excluding the effect of the tax hike. But consumer price moves are largely in line with BOJ forecasts, giving the central bank no strong incentive to take further easing steps.

“I think that both the BOJ and the Fed are going to be on standby for quite some time,” Roberto Rigobon, a partner of State Street Global Markets’ academic affiliate, said at a media event in Tokyo on Friday.

St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard reiterated on Thursday his belief that raising rates by the end of the first quarter in 2015 will be appropriate, based on his own forecast that U.S. economy will register growth of 3 percent for the next four quarters.

But analysts at JPMorgan said the latest U.S. consumer spending report indicated that real consumption growth was quite anaemic.

“This lends some downside risk to our 3.0 percent GDP call for this quarter  a call which we are maintaining for now,” they wrote in a note to clients.

The U.S. dollar edged down against a basket of major currencies. The dollar index traded at 80.115, down about 0.1 percent and on track for a modest fall this week.

The euro drifted up about 0.1 percent to $1.3627, moving back toward Thursday’s high of $1.3652, though sluggish growth and low yields in Europe capped the single currency’s upside.

The euro also nursed a 0.2 percent loss on the day against the yen to buy 138.22 yen, though it managed to hold above a two-week trough of 137.92 plumbed overnight.

KIWI NEARS POST-FLOAT HIGH

The kiwi traded at $0.8773 after peaking at $0.8795, a high not seen since early August 2011. That has set the scene for the kiwi to head towards its post-float high of $0.8842.

With the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in a tightening cycle, the kiwi has become a beacon to some yield-seeking investors. The RBNZ’s cash rate is currently at 3.25 percent, among the highest in the developed world.

Sterling stood within striking distance of a near six-year peak, having gained ground after the Bank of England’s measures to cool Britain’s housing market did not alter interest rate expectations.

The BOE imposed its first limits on how much most people can borrow to buy a home to stem increasing levels of debt and rapidly rising house prices.

The pound crept up about 0.1 percent to $1.7038, edging closer to the peak of $1.7064 set on June 19. (Editing by Eric Meijer)

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