October 16, 2017 / 1:26 PM / a month ago

FOREX-Strong data sends dollar to session highs

* Euro slips before ECB meeting next week

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017-tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The dollar hit intraday highs on Monday after an U.S. index of business conditions rose to a three-year high, though it held within broad ranges as investors looked towards a Federal Reserve meeting at the end of the month.

With very little in the way of top-tier data from the world’s biggest economy this week except for industrial production on Tuesday, every scrap of information will be parsed for clues on the U.S. monetary policy outlook.

“We got a bit of a bounce after the Fed Empire state data but the dollar is really treading water at these levels,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

The New York Fed’s empire state current business conditions was 30.2 in October, its highest since September 2014 and blowing past an estimate of 20.7.

Expectations of another U.S. rate increase this year have increased to virtually 90 percent from about 50 percent a month ago.

An index measuring the dollar against a trade-weighted basket of currencies rose 0.2 percent to briefly hit a day’s high of 93.276.

The euro edged lower after posting its biggest weekly gain in a month before a European Central Bank meeting next week at which policymakers are expected to present a plan to roll back its stimulus programme.

With political uncertainty in the form of Catalonia’s bid for independence and the outcome of national elections in Austria having a very muted impact on the currency, investors moved to the sidelines to focus on economic data.

“It is all over to the ECB now and Catalonia and Austria are being discounted as local problems rather than regional concerns,” said Thulan Nguyen, a currency strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Catalan authorities must drop a bid for independence by Thursday, the Spanish government said on Monday, moving closer to imposing direct rule over the region after its leader missed an initial deadline to back down.

Despite that and other apparently euro-negative news in recent weeks, the currency has remained broadly stable against the dollar and even chalked up gains against sterling and other currencies, indicating some buying from institutional investors.

The euro fell 0.1 percent to $1.1814 on Monday but was hemmed in a tight 0.3 percent range. It rose 0.8 percent last week, its biggest weekly rise in a month, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Long euro positions rose for a third consecutive week to more than $14.47 billion, its biggest in more than five years, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released last week.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets

Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; editing by John Stonestreet

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