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Morning Bid: Dollar backed by dove with sharpest claws

FILE PHOTO: A picture illustration shows U.S. 100 dollar bank notes taken in Tokyo

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Kevin Buckland

King dollar is exerting its authority to end the week at new heights. The yen, in particular, has been put in its place, sinking past the closely watched 159 per dollar level last seen in late April, when Tokyo was forced to spend a chunk of money on currency intervention to yank it back from the brink.

The catalyst for the greenback's overnight surge wasn't any strong data that would have compelled the Federal Reserve to keep rates in place for longer. In fact, the latest round of figures on housing and the labour market were invariably soft, and economists forecast another weak reading for the U.S. leading index later on Friday.

Instead, it's that by contrast to major global central banks, the Fed looks positively hawkish.

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Even the Bank of Japan, an outlier in hiking rates when its peers are cutting or standing by to cut, came across as dovish last week by kicking a decision on quantitative tightening to its July meeting.

The Bank of England now looks poised to start cutting in August, and the Swiss National Bank is setting the pace with two consecutive reductions.

The Fed could still hardly be called a hawk among doves. More like the dove with the sharpest claws.

The dollar's surge against major currency rivals on Thursday was enough to put it on course for a third straight winning week, but only barely.

A host of data releases over the European day could easily swing the pendulum. Britain, France, Germany and the euro area as a whole have flash PMI readings, and the UK sees retail sales as well, which could have benefitted from a warmer May.

Away from currency markets, there's been little support from the easy policy outlook. Equities in Asia at least are set to end the week with a whimper, with a flat performance for Japan's Nikkei looking like the best market in the region.

Chip stocks have been sold off everywhere, arguing for more of the same when Europe gets under way.

Considering the 1.5% or so gains so far this week across the FTSE, DAX and STOXX 600, there's certainly room to fall.

Key developments that could influence markets on Friday:

- UK flash PMIs (June), retail sales (May)

- France, Germany, euro zone flash PMIs (June)

- US flash PMIs (June), leading index (May)

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)