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Dollar hits 15-month high vs yen as U.S. payrolls test looms

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Four thousand U.S. dollars are counted out by a banker counting currency at a bank in Westminster, Colorado November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

  • Graphic: World FX rates https://tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E

TOKYO, July 1 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a fresh 15-month high versus the yen and hovered near multi-month peaks against other major peers on Thursday, ahead of a key U.S. jobs report that should offer clues on when the Federal Reserve will start to pare back stimulus.

The U.S. currency rose as high as 111.165 yen for the first time since March 26, 2020, before easing back slightly to 111.055.

The dollar index , which measures the greenback against six counterparts, held just below a 2 1/2-month top of 92.451 reached Wednesday, edging up on the day to 92.402.

The index posted its best month since November 2016 in June, driven by the Fed's surprise hawkish shift in the middle of that month, when policymakers signalled two interest rate hikes by the end of 2023.

Traders are looking to Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for confirmation of that outlook, with economists polled by Reuters expecting a gain of 700,000 jobs last month, compared with 559,000 in May, and an unemployment rate of 5.7% versus 5.8% in the previous month.

The greenback extended gains Wednesday after data showed U.S. private payrolls increased a greater-than-expected 692,000 jobs in June.

"I see the balance of risk skewed to an above-consensus print" for nonfarm payrolls, Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne, wrote in a note to clients. "A payrolls north of 800k could get U.S. bond yields higher and put a further bid in the USD."

If the euro breaks convincingly below current levels versus the dollar, "this could be a magnet to attract USD flow," he said, adding "JPY seems universally weak."

The euro edged down to $1.1851 after dipping as low as $1.1845 on Wednesday for the first time since April 6.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield continued to edge lower in Asia, slipping to 1.4630% following a three-day decline.

Safe-haven assets including Treasuries, the dollar and the yen have been supported by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, which is threatening the global reopening narrative.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia are all battling outbreaks of COVID-19 and tightening curbs, and Spain and Portugal announced restrictions for unvaccinated British tourists.

The Aussie dollar , seen as a proxy for risk appetite, slid 0.2% to $0.7485, approaching last week's six-month low at $0.7478.

Sterling slipped 0.1% to $1.3811, edging toward a recent two-month low of $1.37865.

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Currency bid prices at 0139 GMT

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Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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