FOREX-U.S. dollar little changed as investors await Fed meeting outcome
Adds new comment, FX table, U.S. data, updates prices
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) - The dollar was little changed to slightly higher on Tuesday in choppy trading, with currencies generally lacking direction as market participants awaited the outcome of a Federal Reserve meeting for clues as to where U.S. interest rates are headed.
The greenback overall posted gains against the euro and commodity currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars.
At the Fed's two-day monetary policy meeting, policymakers are expected to forecast that the U.S. economy will grow in 2021 at its fastest rate in decades, with unemployment falling and inflation rising, but they are unlikely to change their monetary policy. nL1N2L82OT
"The Fed will likely maintain its stance because there is clearly no sign of outrageous inflationary growth and equities seem fine after last week's concern with yields," said Juan Perez, FX strategist and trader at Tempus Inc in Washington.
"U.S. producer prices, consumer prices, and even retail sales from this morning show that we have a long way to go before tightening any conditions," he added.
Tuesday's data showed U.S. retail sales dropped by a seasonally adjusted 3.0% last month due in part to harsh weather in February. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales decreased 3.5% last month after surging by an upwardly revised 8.7% in January. nL1N2LD1V6
In midmorning trading, the dollar index was up 0.1% at 91.902 =USD. It has gained for a third straight session.
Investors will also pore over whatever the Fed has to say about the rise in yields, which have gained on bets that economic growth and inflation could prompt a faster-than-expected normalization of monetary policy.
"Anything less than a strong message of the Fed being very committed to maintaining favourable financial market conditions will likely see USD advance further," MUFG FX strategists wrote in a weekly note on Friday.
U.S. Treasury yields were down overall, with the benchmark 10-year note at 1.589% US10YT=RR.
The euro was down 0.2% at $1.1906 EUR=EBS.
It has held below $1.20 since March 5, hurt by expectations for a slower economic recovery in Europe compared with the UK and the United States due to problems rolling out coronavirus vaccines.
Germany, France and Italy said on Monday they would suspend AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots after several countries reported possible serious side effects, but the World Health Organization said there was no proven link and people should not panic. nL1N2LD0O2
The Australian dollar - which is seen as a barometer for risk appetite - was down 0.2% at US$0.7742 AUD=D3. The New Zealand dollar also slipped, down 0.1% at US$0.7191 NZD=D3.
Britain's pound was little changed at $1.3891 GBP=D3. Economic growth in the UK will fall by 4% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the first quarter of 2020, the governor of the Bank of England said. nR1N2KO028
The dollar fell 0.3% against the yen to 108.79 JPY=EBS ahead of the Bank of Japan's two-day policy meeting, which ends on Friday. The central bank's governor said on Tuesday it was important to keep long-term interest rates "stably low". nL4N2LD0MTnL4N2LE1M1
Currency bid prices at 10:16AM (1416 GMT)
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Additional reporting Elizabeth Howcroft in London; Editing by Larry King, Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis)