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[SINGAPORE] The US dollar hit a six-week high against the yen on Thursday, after the US Federal Reserve downplayed weak first-quarter economic growth and was seen as leaving the door open to raising interest rates in June.
The Fed kept interest rates unchanged at its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday and emphasised the strength of the labour market in its subsequent statement - a sign it was still on track for two more rate rises this year.
The central bank said consumer spending continued to be solid, business investment had firmed, and inflation had been"running close" to its target.
The US dollar rose 0.1 per cent to 112.84 yen. The greenback touched 112.86 yen at one point in early Asian trade, its highest level in more than six weeks.
"Although there's no clear signal for a June hike in the statement, the door is wide open for a move," Imre Speizer, senior markets strategist for Westpac, said in a note.
Barring an exceptional surprise, the statement "will leave the market feeling confident the Fed will go," he added.
The euro edged up 0.1 per cent to US$1.0892, regaining a bit of ground after falling 0.4 per cent on Wednesday and edging away from a 5-1/2 month high of US$1.0951 set last week.
On Wednesday, the US dollar also rose against currencies such as the Swiss franc, sterling and the Canadian dollar.
"There's been some dollar-buying globally," said Satoshi Okagawa senior global markets analyst at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.
However, there is still uncertainty as to whether the economy is really on track for the Fed to raise interest rates twice more this year and to begin reducing its balance sheet, either in late 2017 or next year, Mr Okagawa added.
Investors are awaiting Friday's monthly US non-farm payrolls report for greater signs of the Fed's likely rate hike trajectory through the end of the year. Economists polled by Reuters expect US employers to have added 185,000 jobs in April, up from 98,000 in March.
The Institute for Supply Management said its index of non-manufacturing activity (services) rose to 57.5 April from 55.2 in March, handily beating expectations of 55.8 from a Reuters poll of 64 economists.
Private employers expanded employment by 177,000 jobs last month, payrolls processor ADP reported on Wednesday. While that was the smallest gain since October, it roughly matched expectations of economists surveyed by Reuters.
The Australian dollar nursed its losses after tumbling 1.5 per cent on Wednesday, its biggest one-day percentage drop since Nov 9.
The Aussie dollar held steady at US$0.7424, having slipped to as low as US$0.7420 in the wake of the Fed's policy statement, its lowest in nearly four months.