* Yellen speech reiterates dovish tone
* Dollar posts second straight weekly loss
* Long-term dollar uptrend remains (Adds comments, updates prices)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar edged lower against a basket of major currencies on Friday after traders were reluctant to buy the greenback ahead of U.S. jobs data next week, and after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Yellen said the Fed is giving “serious consideration” to beginning to reduce its accommodative monetary policy and a rate hike may be warranted later this year, although a downturn in core inflation or wage growth could force it to hold off.
Analysts said the emphasis on considering rate hikes was slightly hawkish and led the dollar to pare some earlier losses, but that the remarks overall reiterated the message from the Fed’s March 18 policy statement: that the timeline of the Fed’s rate hikes would hinge on U.S. economic data.
Yellen delivered the prepared remarks at a monetary policy conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
“It turned out to be pretty much a replay” of last week’s Fed statement, said Alfonso Esparza, senior currency Strategist at Oanda in Toronto. “They’re waiting for the data,” he said in reference to Fed policymakers.
The speech came after the latest Fed policy statement released March 18, which suggested a less aggressive timeline for hiking rates and led most of Wall Street’s top banks to push out expectations for the first rate hike to September from June.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, posted its second straight weekly loss.
The dollar had lost some ground ahead of the speech on predictions a dovish stance could push the dollar lower. The dollar index rallied over 25 percent from early May last year through March 17, but has since given back some gains since after the Fed’s March 18 statement.
Analysts said the long-term uptrend in the dollar remained in place given the likelihood that the Fed will still hike rates this year, but that traders were awaiting key data, including next week’s U.S. employment report for March.
“It’s still a U.S.-dollar-long environment,” said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.
The euro was last up slightly against the dollar at $ 1.08910 . The dollar was last down slightly against the yen at 119.150 yen. The dollar was last down 0.12 percent against the franc at 0.96180 franc.
The dollar index was last down 0.06 percent at 97.374 .
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by James Dalgleish and Diane Craft)