* Obamacare replacement vote key test for Trump in Congress
* Sterling helped by retail sales numbers
* Aussie sinks on China worries; iron ore price fall
(New throughout, updates prices and market activity to U.S.
market open; new byline, changes dateline, previous LONDON)
By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed
NEW YORK, March 23 The dollar hovered near a
four-month low against the Japanese yen on Thursday ahead of a
vote on Republican healthcare plans seen as a litmus test of
U.S. President Donald Trump's ability to legislate in Congress
and deliver on tax and spending promises.
Trump was set to make a final push in the House of
Representatives to secure the votes to begin dismantling
Obamacare, with signs that enough Republicans might defect to
jeopardize one of his top legislative priorities.
"Today, more than anything, the U.S. House vote is what
people are looking at," said Alvise Marino, FX strategist at
Credit Suisse in New York.
"If the (proposal) does not pass," he said, "that suggests
the government's ability to actually introduce meaningful
changes and meaningful policies is probably going to be
The dollar was roughly steady at 111 yen, after dipping to a
low of 110.64 yen earlier in the session.
The greenback soared to a 14-year peak after Trump's
election last year on expectations of tax changes that would
lead to billions repatriated to the United States and allow the
White House to spend more, boosting growth, inflation and
That faith has evaporated steadily since the turn of the
year, and the dollar has fallen against all of its major peers
If the House does not approve the healthcare proposal,
"it would be dollar-negative and somewhat negative also for
general risk appetite," Marino said.
The dollar traded in a tight range. The dollar index,
which measures the greenback against a basket of six major
currencies, was little changed at 99.702.
"Until we get a concrete signal on fiscal policy, currency
markets remain in a holding pattern," said currency strategist
Erik Nelson of Wells Fargo in New York.
Sterling jumped to a nearly one-month high against the
dollar after UK retail sales data came in much higher than
expected, soothing worries about weakening consumer sentiment in
Britain as it prepares to leave the European Union.
The numbers bolstered speculation that the Bank of England
might be able to raise interest rates at least once in the next
year, driving the pound half a cent higher.
Australia's dollar, fell 0.66 percent to a 1-week low
against the greenback on a slump in prices for its iron ore
exports and nervousness in China's money market.
(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)