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FOREX-Yen firm as global lockdown worries return, Aussie slips on easing hints

    * Yen near 2-week peak, dollar firm
    * AUD drops after RBA Gov Lowe opens door to bond buying,
    * Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

    By Tom Westbrook
    SINGAPORE, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The dollar and yen drew
support on Thursday as rising coronavirus cases and scant
progress towards a U.S. stimulus deal unsettled investors, while
the Australian dollar hit a one-week low after the central bank
chief hinted at easing to come.
    France has imposed curfews as autumn brings a steep rise in
daily infections, prompting worries about a new wave of
lockdowns around the world just as hopes for a shot in the arm
from U.S. stimulus spending are fading.
    The safe-haven yen stood at 105.25 per dollar in
early trade, a fraction shy of a two-week high of 105.04 made
overnight. The greenback held ground elsewhere, save for against
sterling which had jumped on signs of progress in Brexit talks.
    The Australian dollar fell half a percent to
$0.7129, before paring some losses, after Reserve Bank of
Australia Governor Philip Lowe mentioned bond buying and a small
rate cut as among options for policy support during recovery.

    Lowe said Australia's ten-year yield was among the highest
in the developed world and the bank was studying what benefits
could come from buying longer-dated debt. He said it was
possible to move rates from a record low 0.25% to 0.1%.
    "These are pretty explicit policy options that are plausibly
going to be considered," said Westpac FX analyst Sean Callow.
    "There was enough vibe in there for the market to lean
towards (thinking) that they will do something," he said.
"Anyone who was thinking about a November cut would be feeling
better about it now."
    Ten-year bond futures rallied 6.6 ticks to their
highest since April after Lowe's comments and money markets are
priced for a November rate cut.
    Slightly better-than-expected Australian employment data on
Thursday did little to shift easing expectations or lift the
    Elsewhere, U.S. stimulus plans appear bogged down.
    "Getting something done before the election and executing on
that would be difficult," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin
said on Wednesday, adding that the he and Democrat House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi are still "far apart" on their spending priorities.
    That has supported the U.S. dollar in the short term by
weighing on investors' sentiment and boosting demand for safer
assets. Against a basket of currencies the greenback was steady
at 93.400 and held at $1.1749 against the euro.
    The pound clung to a 0.5% overnight gain as the
European Union and Britain were set to prolong Brexit talks past
a mid-October deadline to try bridge stubborn gaps holding up a
new trade agreement, according to sources and documents.
    "This was seen as a positive for sterling because there was
some risk that (British Prime Minister Boris Johnson) might tell
his EU counterparts that he was walking away," said National
Australia Bank's head of FX, Ray Attrill.    
    Sterling last sat at $1.3018.
    Currency bid prices at 8:52AM (052 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct     High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                 
 Euro/Dollar                  $1.1749        $1.1745     +0.03%         +4.80%      +1.1751     +1.1741
 Dollar/Yen                   105.2550       105.1150    +0.12%         -3.10%      +105.2650   +105.1500
 Euro/Yen                     123.65         123.50      +0.12%         +1.39%      +123.6700   +123.4800
 Dollar/Swiss                 0.9134         0.9135      -0.03%         -5.63%      +0.9136     +0.9132
 Sterling/Dollar              1.3018         1.3010      +0.08%         -1.82%      +1.3021     +1.3008
 Dollar/Canadian              1.3151         1.3151      +0.02%         +1.25%      +1.3156     +1.3148
 Aussie/Dollar                0.7136         0.7163      -0.37%         +1.71%      +0.7169     +0.7129
 NZ                           0.6653         0.6660      -0.11%         -1.13%      +0.6662     +0.6648
 Dollar/Dollar All spots
Tokyo spots
Europe spots 
Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ

 (Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Additional reporting
by Suzanne Barlyn in New York; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)