* U.S. Jan CPI, durables goods data soothe economic worries
* Euro falls to 1-month low vs dollar, 3-week low vs yen
* U.S. rate hike may happen in summer or fall -Fed’s Williams
* Dollar has modest effect on policy, economy -Fed’s Bullard (Updates market action, headline, bullets)
By Richard Leong
NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) – The dollar rose to a one-month high against a basket of currencies on Thursday as data on U.S. inflation and business orders revived confidence in the world’s biggest economy and supported bets the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in the middle of the year.
The greenback also received support from San Francisco President John Williams and St. Louis Federal Reserve chief James Bullard, with both making remarks that suggested the U.S. central bank might end its near zero interest rate policy sooner than some traders expect.
The dollar’s rise followed back-to-back days of declines stemming from perceived dovish signals from Fed Chair Janet Yellen in her semiannual testimony before Congress.
On Thursday, the government said the consumer price index, its broadest inflation gauge, fell 0.7 percent in January because of the steep drop in oil prices, but its core reading, which excludes food and energy costs, rose 0.2 percent, more than the 0.1 percent increase economists had expected.
“It undermined the view that there’s domestic disinflation. It’s more an international story about falling prices in goods and commodities,” said Alan Ruskin, global head of currency strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York.
The January CPI report came after the St. Louis Fed’s Bullard told CNBC television the Fed needs to see evidence of a rebound in inflation through the spring for a possible rate increase this summer. He added the dollar’s surge has had a marginal impact on the domestic economy and monetary policy.
Another encouraging report on the U.S. economy showed a rebound in durable goods orders in January. They rose 2.8 percent.
The CPI and durables readings were tempered by a bigger-than-expected increase in new filings for unemployment benefits, raising some concerns about the U.S. labor market.
“If the data come out in the way I expect, then I think that first step could be some time this summer or this fall,” the San Francisco Fed’s Williams told Fox Business Network.
The dollar index climbed to one-month highs, and last traded up 1.1 percent at 95.269. It was within striking distance of 11 year-plus year highs set on Jan. 23 a day after the European Central Bank embarked on a massive bond purchase program.
The euro tumbled 1.4 percent against the greenback, to a one-month low at $ 1.1184 on the EBS trading system. It was less than a cent away from an 11-year low in late January. It slipped to three-week lows versus the yen, last down 0.9 percent at 133.715 yen.
The dollar gained nearly 0.4 percent against the yen to 119.385 yen in late trading.
Some analysts played down the dollar’s bounce, saying Yellen’s testimony dampened expectations the Fed will end its near zero rate policy soon.
A further rise in the greenback is unlikely until later this year, when the Fed may signal its move to begin normalize policy, they said.
“The pause in the dollar rally will likely extend for another month or two,” said Greg Anderson, global head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.
The dollar’s gain coincided with a rise in short-dated U.S. Treasuries yields, which were on track to return to levels on Monday before Yellen’s testimony. The yield on the two-year Treasury was up 4 basis points at 0.650 percent.
(Additional reporting by Patrick Graham, Anirban Nag in London; Editing by Toby Chopra, Jane Merriman, Peter Galloway and Steve Orlofsky)
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