Dollar eases from highs on uncertainty over Fed, U.S. election

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar dipped against a basket of major currencies on Wednesday, reflecting nervousness surrounding Federal Reserve monetary policy and the U.S. election, a day after touching a nearly nine-month high.

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Analysts said expectations the Fed would raise interest rates this December were fully reflected in the dollar’s recent rally, putting the currency at risk of losses if any contrary signals from Fed officials crop up between now and the end of the year.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was last down 0.09 percent at 98.634 after touching 99.119 on Tuesday, its highest since Feb. 1. The index has risen about 3.2 percent this month, putting it on track for its best month in nearly a year.

“We’ve had a dollar rally, and I think we’re in the consolidation phase,” said Vassili Serebriakov, FX strategist at Credit Agricole in New York. He noted the Fed’s November policy meeting and the Nov. 8 U.S. election as potential risks to the dollar’s upside.

Traders saw a roughly 74 percent chance on Wednesday that the Fed would hike rates in December, down from a more than 78 percent chance on Tuesday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch programme.

The euro was last up 0.18 percent against the dollar at $1.0906 after touching a six-day high of $1.0945 earlier in U.S. trading. That marked a rebound from a 7-1/2-month low of $1.0848 touched on Tuesday.

The dollar gained against the yen on a rise in longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields. Analysts said the jump in yields likely drove Japanese investors into Treasuries as an alternative to negative-yielding Japanese government bonds, in turn lifting the dollar.

The dollar was up 0.29 percent against the yen at 104.52 yen, but off a roughly three-month high of 104.87 yen touched on Tuesday. The dollar was down modestly against the Swiss franc at 0.9934 franc after hitting a 7-1/2-month high of 0.9998 franc on Tuesday.

In addition to Fed and U.S. election uncertainty, recent stronger German business morale and import prices data may have supported the euro, said Richard Franulovich, senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp in New York.

Sterling was last up 0.28 percent against the dollar at $1.2224. The pound pared losses on Tuesday after comments from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney cast doubt on expectations for more monetary stimulus in Europe.

Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Peter Cooney