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US dollar loses steam ahead of holidays, US indicators

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The US dollar slipped from its 14-year-high against a basket of currencies on Thursday as investors took profits ahead of holidays and a big batch of US economic data due later in the day.

[TOKYO] The US dollar slipped from its 14-year-high against a basket of currencies on Thursday as investors took profits ahead of holidays and a big batch of US economic data due later in the day.

The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major rivals, last stood at 103.02. It has receded from the 103.65 marked on Tuesday, its highest since December 2002.

Still the US dollar's decline was limited as the Federal Reserve signalled more frequent rate hikes in 2017, partly on expectations for faster economic growth under the incoming Trump Administration.

While trade is expected to slow down ahead of Christmas, the market's near-term focus is on a big batch of US economic data due on Thursday, including revised GDP for July-Sept, durable goods orders for November, and weekly initial jobless claims.

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"The market is relatively quiet on a holiday mood, but if the US economic data is worse than the market expects, the US dollar is likely to be sold further," said Kumiko Ishikawa, FX market analyst at Sony Financial Holdings.

The US dollar index has gained more than five per cent since the Nov 8 US election, as traders have bet that Mr Trump will step up fiscal spending and stoke higher inflation.

The euro was up 0.1 per cent at US$1.0430, rebounding from US$1.0352 on Tuesday, the lowest since January 2003.

The common currency could come under pressure as investors contemplate the future of the ailing Monte dei Paschi di Siena Italy's third largest lender.

The world's oldest bank has all but failed to pull off a last-ditch private sector rescue plan, making a state rescue for look inevitable, sources said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni's new government is likely to meet this week to issue an emergency decree to inject capital into the bank, which the European Central Bank has judged the weakest of the euro zone's major banks.

But such state aid could prove to be politically explosive given that investors are required to bear losses under EU bailout rules and could undermine confidence in the country's wider banking sector, wich is saddled with a third of the euro zone's total bad loans.

The greenback stood 117.58 yen against the yen, retreating from 10-1/2 month high of 118.66 yen set last week.

The Swedish crown booked its biggest gains in about 10 months versus the euro on Wednesday after Sweden's central bank voted by a small margin to extend its bond purchase program.

The euro fell almost 1 per cent to 9.6077 crowns on Wednesday, its biggest one-day drop since February. The euro was last down 0.1 per cent against the crown at 9.6173 crowns.

REUTERS

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