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Dollar retains gains, Aussie finds footing after slide

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02/21/2019 | 11:11pm EST
Illustration photo of a U.S. Dollar note

TOKYO (Reuters) - Higher U.S. bond yields underpinned the dollar on Friday, while its Australian counterpart steadied after its recent sharp slide on upbeat central bank comments and easing concerns about China's ban on Australian coal imports.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 96.608 after edging up about 0.15 percent overnight when long-term Treasury yields surged to a one-week high on news of progress in U.S.-China trade talks. [US/]

However, the greenback's gains were capped after Thursday's soft U.S. economic data, including an unexpected fall in core capital goods orders and weak existing home sales, which affirmed expectations that the Federal Reserve will hold interest rates steady.

"The currency market is entering a phase when it is becoming a little numb to political developments such as U.S.-China trade talks and Brexit," said Takuya Kanda, general manager at Gaitame.Com Research.

"It's back to fundamentals, particularly for the dollar, with each data release until next week's non-farm payrolls report likely to slowly build directional cues."

The euro was 0.05 percent higher at $1.1340 and on track to gain 0.4 percent on the week.

Traders are watching out for Germany's Ifo business climate index due later in the session for any potential catalysts for the common currency.

The dollar was effectively flat at 110.73 yen following modest overnight losses. It was headed for a gain of roughly 0.2 percent this week.

The yen barely budged after data showed Japan's core consumer prices rose 0.8 percent in January from the previous year, with the outcome in line with forecasts.

Japanese inflation remains distant from the Bank of Japan's 2 percent target, reinforcing market expectations the country is nowhere near an exit from ultra-loose monetary policy.

The Australian dollar was up 0.1 percent at $0.7094 after sliding more than 1 percent to a 10-day low the previous day on fears a ban on the country's coal by a Chinese port would hurt Australia's already slowing economy.

The Aussie's bounce came after the government downplayed the ban, Rodrigo Catril, currency strategist at National Australia Bank, said. In addition, upbeat remarks from the country's central bank chief earlier in the day also boosted the currency.

The pound was steady at $1.3036 after inching lower overnight.

Sterling has swung wildly between a low of $1.2895 and a high of $1.3109 this week as British Prime Minister Theresa May tries to persuade European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to modify her withdrawal deal and then get the tweaked agreement through parliament.

(Additional reporting by Swati Pandey in Sydney; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam)

By Shinichi Saoshiro

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