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Dollar firms up ahead of Fed meeting, ruble steady

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Shutterstock photo - - The dollar firmed up against the other major currencies on Wednesday as investors positioned ahead of the outcome of the final Federal Reserve policy meeting of 2014 later in the day.

USD/JPY was up 0.51% to 117.01 after falling to one-month lows of 115.55 overnight.

The dollar received a boost after data earlier showed that Japan's exports grew by a smaller-than-forecast 4.9% in November, despite the steep fall in the yen, as slower demand in Asia and Europe weighed.

Investors remained wary ahead of the Fed's policy statement, as ongoing speculation over the prospects for a U.S. rate hike next year have fuelled expectations that the bank may change its forward guidance, and drop the pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a "considerable time".

The traditional safe haven yen rallied on Tuesday as a rout in oil prices continued, adding to fears over the global economic outlook and the impact of oil's drop on weakening emerging market economies and their currencies.

The Russian ruble was steady, with USD/RUB at around 67.84 after briefly rallying in early trade when the Finance Ministry said it had started selling foreign currency in an attempt to shore up the ruble.

The ruble fell to fresh record lows against the dollar on Tuesday, after a surprise interest rate hike failed to ease selling pressure on the currency from falling oil and western sanctions.

EUR/USD was down 0.43% to 1.2457. The pair rose to a three-week high of 1.2568 on Tuesday after data showed that the closely watched ZEW index of German economic sentiment improved to its highest level since May this month.

This was offset by survey data showing that euro zone private sector activity grew at a picked up slightly in December after falling to a 16 month low last month, but the rate of expansion was still one of the weakest seen over the past year.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.42% to 88.43, off Tuesday's almost three-week lows of 87.83.

The pound was also lower, with GBP/USD dipping 0.13% to 1.5729.

Sterling found support after earlier Wednesday showed that U.K. average earnings rose by a stronger than forecast 1.4% in the three months to October, higher than inflation.

The U.K. unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.0% in the three months to October, compared to expectations for a tick down to 5.9%.

The dollar gained ground against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF up 0.44% to 0.9742.

The commodity exposed currencies remained close to multi-year lows. The Australian dollar was close to four-and-a-half year lows, with AUD/USD down 0.47% to 0.8180. NZD/USD lost 0.88% to trade at 0.7733 and USD/CAD was up 0.21% to 1.1651. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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