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Dollar wavers with inflation looming as next test for rates

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An employee of the Korea Exchange Bank counts one hundred U.S. dollar notes during a photo opportunity at the bank's headquarters in Seoul April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

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SYDNEY, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered a little below the year's peaks on Tuesday, while cryptocurrencies scaled records, as inflation numbers loom as the next test of traders' thinking on the outlook for interest rates.

Price data, due from both China and the United States on Wednesday, could also test central bankers' promises of patience. Economists expect the numbers to show profound pressure on factory gate prices in China, which can flow through global supply chains, and U.S. consumer prices galloping ahead.

Inflation expectations had tugged real U.S. yields and the dollar a little lower overnight, particularly against the New Zealand dollar, but it remains within sight of highs hit on Friday.

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The euro , which had dropped to a 15-month trough of $1.15135 in the wake of Friday's strong U.S. jobs figures, held at $1.1588.

The greenback steadied just above 113 yen . However it had dropped about 0.7% against the kiwi overnight as traders stay wary of the possibility that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand could raise rates by 50 basis points (bps) later this month.

The kiwi was last steady at $0.7162.

"If the RBNZ is of a mind to hike by 50bps, now's the time," ANZ analysts said in a note.

"That still seems incongruous with the uncertain global backdrop and cautious tone of other central banks. Still, until we know the outcome, markets will price in the risk."

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar had also firmed overnight and held most of the modest gain to trade at $0.7410 on Tuesday. The U.S. dollar index was steady at 94.095, about the middle of the range it kept through October.

Bitcoin , which is sometimes seen as an inflation hedge and has been surging on a wave of positive news, rose to a record $67,700 in Asia trade, pulling ether with it to a record $4,800. read more

Sterling , hammered last week when the Bank of England surprised markets by holding rates steady, had made something of a recovery on Monday as world bond markets pared back some aggressive bets on imminent higher interest rates.

Sterling was last at $1.3561 after falling as low as $1.3425 on Friday.

Ahead of the data, a slew of central bankers are due to speak later on Tuesday, including European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde at 1300 GMT and Fed chair Jerome Powell at 1400 GMT.

Last week, along with the Bank of England surprise, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Federal Reserve pushed back at markets' aggressive hike projections and some of the edge has come off rates' pricing.

Fed funds futures have pushed back rates lift-off from around July next year to September or October. Analysts at Standard Chartered also expect a hike in the third quarter of next year, but a slow path higher thereafter.

"We suspect that the discussion of rate hikes will subside for a while. Central banks that give forward guidance discourage investors from pricing policy moves too far in advance," strategists Steve Englander and John Davies said in a note.

"So we expect Fed officials to keep repeating that rate hikes are not imminent until a move is only a few months away."

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Currency bid prices at 0051 GMT

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Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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