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The euro hovered below a five-month high against the dollar on Tuesday as investors assessed whether it can make fresh gains given that market players have already positioned themselves for a series of interest rate hikes in the euro zone during 2011.
The European Central Bank is expected to raise rates by a quarter point from a record low of 1% at a meeting on Thursday to rein in inflationary pressures, with two more 25 basis point hikes priced in by year-end .
But the single currency has already risen more than 6% against the dollar and more than 10% versus the yen this year, making investors reluctant to buy more ahead of the meeting this week.
"For the ECB, an April interest rate hike is a done deal and one or two more hikes are priced in. It's hard to see a positive surprise from here," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief FX strategist at Barclays Bank.
A rise above its November peak of $1.4283 could open the way to $1.4374 (76.4% retracement of the euro's slide from November 2009 to June 2010). Support is seen at $1.4190, with traders citing stops through to below $1.4150.
The Australian dollar dipped, pressured by profit-taking in the wake of its rise to a 29-year high of $1.0422 the previous day. There was talk of both bids and stop-loss offers around $1.0300.
The Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep interest rates unchanged at 4.75% as widely expected.
"In the medium term, the Aussie remains supported, but there is some room for position reduction. Rather than looking for a run-up in Aussie/U.S. dollar, you would look at Aussie/yen and perhaps Aussie/Swiss franc," said Robert Ryan, senior currency strategist for BNP Paribas.
Later on Tuesday, focus will turn to the Fed minutes for more hints on the Fed's policy outlook.
Underscoring the market's focus on Fed speakers, the dollar edged higher against the yen and the euro earlier on Tuesday, following comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Bernanke said a recent pick-up in U.S. inflation was driven primarily by rising commodity prices globally, but added that was unlikely to persist.
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