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FOREX-Dollar rally pauses as market braces for U.S. inflation data

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    • Dollar/yen steady after hitting 4-week high
    • Focus on U.S. CPI data due later on Thursday
    • Sterling steady before BoE monetary policy decision
    • Aussie rises slightly on Aug. employment surge

    The U.S. dollar's rally paused on Thursday as traders waited for consumer inflation data later in the day for clues on whether the Federal Reserve will maintain its gradual pace of credit tightening.

    The Australian dollar rose slightly after a report showed Australia's employment rose by the most in two years in August, though it pared some of the gains after Chinese economic data fell short of market expectations.

    The U.S. dollar was at 110.47 yen JPY= , steady from the late trade in the U.S. on Wednesday. It earlier rose to 110.735 yen, the highest since Aug. 16.

    The dollar, which slid to a 10-month low of 107.32 yen last week on worries over Hurricane Irma and North Korea, has climbed this week as risk sentiment improved and U.S. Treasury yields edged higher.

    The currency drew additional help from vague but renewed hopes on President Donald Trump's tax cuts plans as he reached out to both Democrats and Republicans, even though there remain doubts on whether he can clinch a deal with a divided Congress.

    "Trump seems to be paying more attention to the relations with Democrats. Markets liked it as he seems to have learned a lesson from his failure in his healthcare reform," said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of foreign exchange at Societe Generale in Tokyo.

    A near-term focus is U.S. inflation data due later on Thursday that will be closely watched by the U.S. Federal Reserve as it considers when to next raise interest rates.

    "The market has moved a little bit to the dovish side in terms of Fed expectations, so if let's say the U.S. inflation numbers turn out to be a bit stronger than expected, then I think it will help add a little bit more to this dollar rebound," said Heng Koon How, head of markets strategy for United Overseas Bank in Singapore.

    However, expectations are for U.S. inflation to remain low-key.

    The U.S. core consumer price index is expected to have risen 1.6 percent on an annual basis in August, which would be the lowest since early 2015, versus 1.7 percent in July. ECONUS

    The Fed has a 2 percent inflation target, and a series of subdued inflation readings have dampened expectations for the Fed to raise interest rates again this year and weighed on the dollar.

    "I cannot see today's data giving convincing reasons for the Fed to raise rates in December. So I would assume the dollar is likely to give back some of this week's gains," said Ayako Sera, market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo.

    The euro held steady at $1.1878 EUR= , having pulled back from a 2-1/2 year high of $1.2092 set on Friday.

    Later on Thursday, investors will also turn their focus to monetary policy decisions by the Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank. ECONG7

    Sterling held steady at $1.3201 GBP=D3 . On Wednesday it faltered after setting a one-year high of $1.3329, as investors took profits before the BoE policy decision on Thursday.

    The BoE's policymakers are widely expected to leave rates at a record low 0.25 percent when they make their latest policy statement at 1100 GMT.

    But all eyes will be on Chief Economist Andy Haldane to see if he switches sides and joins the two members of the central bank's Monetary Policy Committee who have been voting in vain to reverse last year's quarter-point cut in rates.

    The Australian dollar jumped after the employment data

    but the lacklustre economic data from China, one of the country's biggest trading partners, limited the gains.

    China's investment growth slowed to near 18-year low while output and retail sales figures also fell short of expectations.

    The Aussie last traded at 0.8004 AUD=D4 after having risen to $0.8017.

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