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Dollar off 4-month high as cooling inflation eases pressure for Fed

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An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange in central Cairo, Egypt, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

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TOKYO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - The dollar held near a four-month peak against major peers on Thursday after retreating overnight as a cooling in consumer inflation tempered bets for an earlier tightening of U.S. monetary policy.

The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of six rivals, was little changed at 92.890, following a 0.19% decline from Wednesday, when it rose as high as 93.195, a level not seen since April 1.

The consumer price index rose 0.5% last month, in line with economist estimates but down from the 0.9% advance in June. Inflation eased in some areas where Fed policymakers had indicated price pressures would likely prove temporary, such as used cars. read more

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The Fed has made a labour market recovery a condition for phasing out its asset purchase programme and raising interest rates, while generally viewing current inflationary pressures as transitory, although there has been debate about how long those pressures could last.

The Fed is "likely to take some comfort" from the CPI report, David de Garis, an analyst at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note to clients.

"For now, the focus returns more fully to the rate of improvement in the state of the labour market."

The euro was little changed at $1.1740 after retreating from a four-month low of $1.1706 on Wednesday, which brought it just two tenths of a cent from the weakest level since early November.

The dollar eased 0.07% to 110.355 yen , continuing to pull back from a five-week high of 110.80 reached overnight.

However, many analysts still expect the Fed to announce a tapering of stimulus this year, potentially as soon as next month.

Kansas City Fed President Esther George said on Wednesday the standard for reducing the bond-buying programme may have already been met by the current spike in inflation, recent labour market improvements and the expectation for continued strong demand. read more

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, in an interview with CNBC, said the U.S. central bank should announce its timeline for reducing massive bond purchases next month and start tapering them in October.

In an interview with Reuters, Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said it may take a few months more for the U.S. job market to recover enough that the Fed can start to reduce its support for the economy.

"The general consensus emanating from FOMC members currently is that the time to taper asset purchases is nearing," Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Kim Mundy wrote in a research note.

"Growing expectations for a near-term taper can support USD."

Mundy expects a taper announcement in September if jobs data for August remains strong.

Elsewhere, bitcoin traded around $45,800 after touching $46,787.60 on Wednesday, the highest since mid-May.

Smaller rival ether stood around $3,200 after advancing to $3,279.99 overnight for the first time since May 19.

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Currency bid prices at 0021 GMT

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Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Sam Holmes

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