FOREX-Dollar dips, but with a wary eye on U.S. inflation data

·3 min read

* Graphic: World FX rates

By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE, June 25 (Reuters) - The dollar drifted lower in Asia on Friday as an agreement on U.S. infrastructure spending underpinned appetite for riskier currencies, but caution ahead of key U.S. inflation data kept losses to a minimum.

The risk-sensitive Antipodean currencies rose very slightly, while the euro gained 0.1% to $1.1940 and the yen rose by about the same margin to 110.80 per dollar.

Such small moves left most of the dollar's recent gains intact, after it was vaulted higher in the wake of a surprise shift in policy outlook from the Federal Reserve - which last week flagged sooner-than-expected interest rate rises.

Inflation data due later on Friday will offer the latest indication of how much pressure the Fed is under to move, as will labour market figures due in a week's time - leaving traders unwilling to sell the dollar too hard just in case it bounces again soon.

"The dollar can jump if inflation surprises to the upside," said Joe Capurso, head of international economics at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney. "Upside inflation surprises have been the trend in the U.S. recently," he added.

Others said it would take a big number to move markets.

Economists polled by Reuters expect core personal consumption expenditures index to post its fastest rise in nearly three decades, with year-on-year gains of 3.4%. The data is due at 1230 GMT.

In Asia, a combination of soothing overnight comments from New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams and hopes for a huge U.S. infrastructure spending plan supported the mood in financial markets, helping riskier currencies.

The New Zealand dollar has crept back above its 200-day moving average to $0.7070, although it remains well shy of February highs above 74 cents. The Australian dollar rose 0.1% to $0.7591.

Moves were larger in smaller markets and the South Korean won hit its strongest in over a week, while the Thai baht extended its bounce from a one-year low.

"From a technical perspective, a lot of (Asian) currencies started to get into oversold territory," said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ, which together with the quarter-end timing has prompted exporters to sell dollars for local currencies.

"The next phase for FX markets is who's next," Goh added.

"The Fed has changed their tune and turned more hawkish for good reason: the U.S. economy is doing well. But it's not just the U.S. economy that's doing well...that's why I think the dollar's not necessarily going to keep going up."

On that front, the absence of any rate hike hints from the Bank of England knocked sterling on Thursday, while a surprise lift to rates in Mexico sent the peso zooming.

Bank of England policymakers even warned against "premature tightening" and the pound was the worst performing G10 currency on Thursday. It stayed at $1.3920 in the Asia session.

Bitcoin was firm at $34,650 and headed for a small weekly loss, as it has recovered most of a plunge below $30,000.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)