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FOREX-Dollar hits 8-month high on yen, yuan buoyed by China GDP
Published at 17/01/2020 at 03:59

* U.S. data point to moderate economic growth, tighter jobs market

* Onshore yuan hits 6-month high on upbeat China data

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

By Tomo Uetake and Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The dollar scaled an eight-month high against the yen on Friday after upbeat U.S. retail sales and jobs data, while the yuan got a lift after China's economic data brightened the mood already cheered by a Sino-U.S. trade deal.

The dollar rose to as high as 110.305 yen , its strongest since late May in 2019, extending its rally from 107.65, a three-month low touched on Wednesday last week.

U.S. retail sales increased for a third straight month in December and the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped for a fifth straight week last week, indicating the labour market remained strong.

Other data showed a gauge of manufacturing activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region rebounded in January to its highest in eight months, leading the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia to call the factory outlook the brightest in more than 18 months.

"A lift in U.S. Treasury yields, a firmer U.S. dollar and record highs in many global equity markets have encouraged the dollar/yen higher," said Richard Grace, chief currency strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) in Sydney.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback's strength against a basket of six major currencies, was little changed at 97.322 , as other major currencies barely moved.

The euro stood flat at $1.1133 while the British pound was also little changed at $1.3035.

The Chinese yuan edged up, hitting a six-month high of 6.8660 to the dollar in onshore trade , after a batch of Chinese economic data pointed to some stabilisation in the world's second-largest economy.

Industrial output and fixed asset investment for December beat market expectations while the country's fourth quarter GDP growth came in at 6.0% from a year earlier, in line with market expectations.

"There were rebounds in some areas, such as fixed income investments and industrial output, which is in line with other signs that China's deceleration is coming to an end," said Masashi Hashimoto, senior currency analyst at MUFG Bank in Tokyo.

"Markets seem to be reacting more positively than we have estimated to the deal, as China and the U.S. at least appear to have stopped slapping tariffs on each other even though whether they can reach a Phase 2 deal is unclear. We might consider revising up our yuan forecast a bit," he said.

The Australian dollar, often used as a proxy bet on the Chinese economy, was little changed at $0.6893 .

The currency has been dogged by concerns over fallout from widespread bushfires that have increased expectations of a rate cut by the country's central bank as soon as next month.

(Reporting by Tomo Uetake and Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

((hideyuki.sano@thomsonreuters.com; +81 3 4563 2768;))