* U.S. dollar helped by trade data
* Canadian dollar at lowest in almost 4 years
* Focus on U.S. jobs data on Friday
By Patrick Graham
LONDON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The dollar consolidated gains against the yen on Wednesday after a boost from upbeat trade data a day earlier which triggered renewed appetite for riskier assets among global investors.
Action in European trade centred around the Swedish crown, hurt by minutes from the central bank’s last meeting that were read as leaving room for more cuts in interest rates.
The Canadian dollar also weakened. Hedge funds have been betting against it and despite regaining a foothold as North American investors began to come online it was still down almost half a percent on the day, 1.5 percent since late last week.
Dealers said trade was slowing somewhat ahead of the publishing of minutes from the last meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve later on Wednesday, keenly eyed for more signs of how long the central bank will keep interest rates at record lows.
Friday’s U.S. jobs report, however, may provide more clues as to how quickly the U.S central bank will cut back on its huge bond-buying programme this year.
“We think there may be some more room for the dollar to rise tonight after the minutes,” said Michael Sneyd, currency strategist with BNP Paribas in London.
“Beyond that we are looking for an inflationary number on payrolls which should support the Fed plan for tapering (of monetary stimulus) ... and a stronger dollar.”
He said BNP has a forecast of 215,000 new jobs created by the world’s biggest economy in December - above the 196,000 consensus of economists in a Reuters poll.
The dollar rose 0.2 percent to 104.80 yen, pulling away from Monday’s two-week low of 103.88 and back towards last week’s five-year high of 105.45 yen. It had peaked earlier on Wednesday at 105.135.
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar reached a six-week high of 81.048 and was last up 0.2 percent on the day at 80.986.
The dollar was last up 0.2 percent against the euro at $1.3590.
Data on Tuesday showing the smallest U.S. trade deficit in four years as exports hit a record high, lifted the dollar. At the same time, global stocks rose, indicating the greater risk appetite that is usually a sign to sell the yen.
However, European stock markets fell back after early gains and were looking to the U.S. releases for more direction.
The Swedish central bank’s emphasis on macroprudential measures to deal with the effects of household debt was read as leaving the door open to another cut in interest rates. Minutes from the bank’s last meeting also showed that two members supported a bigger cut in rates last month. The market response was to knock around 0.3 percent off the crown.
BNP’s Sneyd said he had expected the minutes to head off the prospect of another hike and the lack of such as message had hurt the crown.
“Markets had expected the door would be closed,” he said. “Overall these minutes looked very dovish. They look very sensitive to any downside risk (on the economy).”
The Canadian dollar took the biggest hit after a survey of purchasing managers came in lower than expected and the trade deficit proved bigger than forecast.
That lifted the U.S. dollar to C$1.0825 <CAD=D4, its highest since May 2010. It was last up 0.4 percent at C$1.0807.
Comments by Bank of Canada chief Stephen Poloz that it should keep its key interest rate on hold until data persuaded it otherwise also weighed on the currency.