* Dovish Fed minutes dent strong dollar scenario
* Further Greek debt developments eyed for cues
* Greece expected to ask for extension of loan agreement
* Pound holds gains after U.K. wage data boost (Adds details, quotes)
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, Feb 19 (Reuters) – The dollar fell against the yen and euro on Thursday, paring gains after minutes of January’s Federal Reserve policy meeting showed officials were concerned about hiking interest rates too soon.
The greenback shed 0.2 percent to 118.58 yen after coming down from a peak of 119.41 overnight. The dollar index added to losses and was down 0.3 percent at 93.940 but managed to keep above this week’s trough of 93.801.
“The two pillars of a strong dollar scenario: the first being strong fundamentals and the next being June rate hike expectations, are beginning to wobble,” said Junichi Ishikawa, market analyst at IG Securities in Tokyo.
Although the closely-watched non-farm payrolls data released earlier this month proved robust, recent U.S. economic data have not been consistently strong.
Against such a backdrop Fed policymakers expressed concern that raising interest rates too soon could chill the U.S. economic recovery in the minutes issued on Wednesday.
Widening the scope of factors to consider, they also noted the potential negative impact from global factors such as China’s economic slowdown and fighting in the Middle East and Ukraine.
“A few weeks ago it was about oil, then Greece and now its the Fed,” said Bart Wakabayashi, head of forex at State Street in Tokyo.
“Market participants had tried distilling what the Fed was looking at into a few factors, but that is not easy any more as it has broadened its horizons. Players tend to make trading easier by making simple correlations, but we have to look deeper now to gauge sentiment,” he said.
U.S. debt yields, which spiked midweek and shored up the dollar, promptly declined in wake of the minutes’ release.
The euro rose 0.2 percent to $ 1.1422 following a pull back from the previous day’s low of $ 1.1334. The euro has traded in a 2-cent range for more than three weeks.
“The euro is quite stable amid the Greek risk…the immediate focal point is how risk assets fare going forward, as they have performed relatively well despite Greece. Heightened risk appetite may eventually prompt players to cover euro shorts,” Ishikawa at IG Securities said.
Noise from Greek debt-related matters not withstanding, German and U.S. stocks have notched record highs over the past week. Japan’s Nikkei climbed to a 15-year high on Thursday.
The common currency could receive more support depending on the outcome of negotiations between Greece and its creditors, a major source of volatility for the euro.
Greece is expected to ask later in the day for an extension to its loan agreements with the euro zone as it faces running out of cash within weeks.
This seeming concession by Greece after weeks of haggling with creditors would give the euro some relief, but Athens must first overcome resistance from sceptical partners led by Germany.
Sterling traded at $ 1.5452, holding to a swathe of territory won overnight when it hit a 1-1/2 month high of $ 1.5480 after data showed strong growth in British wages.
Benefiting from the dollar’s broad weakness, the Aussie hovered close to a one-week high of 0.7840 hit late Wednesday.
The currency market was slightly robbed of liquidity with most of Asia excluding Japan away on Lunar New Year holidays.
(Editing by Eric Meijer & Kim COghill)
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