Dollar stays near 4 - 1 2 month high ahead of Fed's July meeting

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LONDON, Aug. 18 - The dollar held near a 4 - 1 2 month high versus a basket of major currencies on Wednesday as simmering concerns about the global economy forced investors to seek safety in the greenback before the release of the Federal Reserve's July meeting minutes.

Sterling and the commodity-exposed Australian and Canadian currency all hovered near recent lows against the dollar as the broad market mood remained cautious. The dollar index held steady around 93.09, just below an early April high of 93.20 as hit last week.

The FX market is trading exactly as one would expect when growth worries are dominant theme, said Marios Hadjikyriacos, a senior investment analyst at XM.

Even the New Zealand dollar, which briefly rose after the central bank set out a mild outlook for interest rates, swooned as a mild wave of risk aversion swept through markets.

The Kiwi was down 0.5% at $0.6888 in London trading having risen earlier to $0.6952 after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it would keep rates at 0.25%, after the country was locked into a snap COVID-19 lockdown.

A monthly fund manager survey by investment bank BoFA Securities showed that investors flipped to the net overweight on the dollar for the first time in nearly a year.

This shift in positioning was evident in more full - weekly high-frequency data as well, with hedge funds ramping up their net long bets on the greenback by December 3 to the most since March 2020.

While the dollar failed to draw any sustained strength from Fed Chair Jerome Powell's comments and mixed U.S. data, markets shifted focus to the annual Jackson Hole symposium next week where some expect the Fed to signal a change in direction with regards to its asset purchase plans.

In July, U.S. retail sales plunged 1.1%, more than economists anticipated but the industrial production numbers showed that output at U.S. factories surged in July. The Canadian dollar hovered near a one-month low and has fallen to 20.44.

Bitcoin traded at $45,244, not far from the highest price in the three months of August last on Saturday. Ether stood at $3,042 : 1.