* Euro back down at $1.0475 after Friday's spike to $1.0700
* Dollar steady around 117.40 yen, trade thinned by Japan
* Diverging yield trends, tax plans underpin dollar
* Aussie up on firm Caixin survey, wary of China forex flows
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, Jan 3 The U.S. dollar held firm on
Tuesday as the prospect of rising U.S. interest rates this year
kept sentiment bullish, while a surprisingly upbeat reading on
Chinese manufacturing gave the Aussie dollar a lift.
A holiday in Japan made for quiet early trade, leaving the
dollar steady around 117.40 yen but well up on Friday's
trough of 116.05. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was
up 0.5 percent at 102.720.
The euro was sulking at $1.0475 despite strong
manufacturing data for the single currency bloc, having
surrendered all of Friday's brief spike to $1.0700.
A dearth of liquidity was largely behind the wild swings,
though the market is now so long dollars that it is vulnerable
to sudden corrections.
Data released on Friday showed speculators increasing their
bets on the dollar in the week up to last Tuesday after cutting
positions for the first time since October in the previous week.
The greenback had soared to 14-year highs in December on
speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve will hike rates as many as
three times this year, and that President-elect Donald Trump
will stoke growth and inflation with debt-funded tax cuts.
Treasury yields have jumped in anticipation while central
banks in the euro zone and Japan are still working to keep their
short-term yields deep in negative territory.
As a result, U.S. two-year debt pays 200 basis
points more than German debt and 138 basis points more than
"Following a period of consolidation between now and late
January, we believe the USD will put on another 10 percent of
gains over the next eighteen months," said Richard Grace, chief
currency strategist at CBA.
Grace argued Trump's proposed plans for a U.S. company tax
cut could be particularly bullish for the dollar since it would
likely encourage a wave of repatriation by domestic firms and
demand for U.S. equities by foreign investors.
"We anticipate some twelve-to-eighteen months of USD
strength, beginning when the Trump Administration gets its tax
cuts through the Congress," he added, citing late March as
likely timing for passage.
Dealers are also keeping a wary eye on the yuan as annual
quotas covering how much foreign currency Chinese individuals
can buy are reset this week.
China's foreign exchange regulator said on Saturday that the
$50,000 annual individual quota will remain unchanged, but some
banks have told customers that purchases of foreign currency for
buying property, securities and life insurance were not allowed.
The new rules on overseas currency transfers are not capital
controls, the official Xinhua news agency reported,
There has been talk investors could rush to sell the yuan
fearing further depreciation in the currency, forcing the
country's central bank to run down its reserves to head off a
Some in the market have hedged the risk by shorting the
Australian dollar, typically used as a liquid proxy for the
yuan. Yet the Aussie got a lift to $0.7215 on Tuesday
after a survey showed China's factory activity picked up in
December, with output reaching a near six-year high.
The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index
(PMI) rose to 51.9, from 50.9 in November.
(Editing by Kim Coghill and Jacqueline Wong)