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FOREX-Yen claws back ground as looming winter chills vaccine cheer

    * Yen has recouped more than half its vaccine-driven losses
    * Dollar steady as risk currencies struggle for headway
    * China's economic performance powers yuan to 29-month top
    * Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

    By Tom Westbrook
    SYDNEY, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The safe-haven Japanese yen sat
near a one-week high and a steady U.S. dollar held commodity
currencies in check on Wednesday, as worries about rising
coronavirus cases tempered optimism around promising vaccine
    At 104.14 per dollar, the yen has recouped more than
half of the steep losses it suffered last week after Pfizer
announced it had developed a working COVID-19 vaccine. 
    Bitcoin, sometimes regarded as a haven asset or
at least a hedge against inflation, has surged to a three-year
high against the dollar and the risk-sensitive Australian and
New Zealand dollars were a fraction softer, along with stocks.
    "The slight cooling of equity sentiment has put a cap on
currencies," said Westpac currency analyst Imre Speizer.
    "We know we've got a vaccine. Now it's about distribution
and how quickly it can start to make a difference, which is
going to be quite a few months away."
    Before then, a tough winter looms.
    Surging cases have driven record hospitalisations and fresh
restrictions on gathering in the United States, while new
outbreaks vex authorities in Japan, South Korea and Australia.

    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that
there was "a long way to go" to economic recovery.
    The Australian dollar slipped 0.3% on Tuesday and
was a shade weaker still on Wednesday at $0.7288. The New
Zealand dollar was 0.1% softer at $0.6889.
    The euro was steady at $1.1862 and against a basket
of currencies the dollar held at 92.439 - a little softer
than earlier in the week as a slight bond rally has knocked the
shine off U.S. Treasury yields.
    "It's back to pondering short-term negatives vs longer-term
vaccine positives, and that's creating volatility," ANZ analysts
said in a note. "Vaccine deployment isn't an immediate fix ...
expect things to remain mixed and messy."
    Elsewhere sterling edged higher as traders hoped for a
Brexit trade deal breakthrough.
    Britain's chief negotiator David Frost has told Prime
Minister Boris Johnson to expect a Brussels trade deal "early
next week", The Sun newspaper reported, with "a possible landing
zone" as soon as next Tuesday.
    As soft economic data in the United States weighed on dollar
sentiment, strong industrial output in China kept the yuan's
barnstorming run alive, sending it to an almost 29-month high of
6.5457 per dollar in offshore trade.
    The Chinese yuan has gained nearly 9% against the dollar
since late May, despite the central bank taking various actions
to temper its strength.
    Later on Wednesday British inflation figures are due and
several U.S. Fed members make speeches. In emerging markets,
focus is on a Bank of Thailand meeting, though most economists
expect rates to be kept on hold.
    Currency bid prices at 11:19AM in Sydney (0019 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct     High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                 
 Euro/Dollar                  $1.1861        $1.1861     +0.03%         +5.82%      +1.1868     +1.1861
 Dollar/Yen                   104.1350       104.1900    +0.00%         -4.07%      +104.1900   +0.0000
 Euro/Yen                     123.50         123.57      -0.06%         +1.27%      +123.6300   +123.5100
 Dollar/Swiss                 0.9114         0.9116      -0.03%         -5.82%      +0.9115     +0.9112
 Sterling/Dollar              1.3253         1.3250      +0.04%         -0.06%      +1.3263     +1.3250
 Dollar/Canadian              1.3108         1.3107      +0.02%         +0.91%      +1.3110     +1.3102
 Aussie/Dollar                0.7289         0.7300      -0.14%         +3.89%      +0.7299     +0.7288
 NZ                           0.6886         0.6894      -0.10%         +2.35%      +0.6893     +0.6887
 Dollar/Dollar All spots
Tokyo spots
Europe spots 
Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ 

 (Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sam Holmes)