FOREX-Dollar drifts as traders cast gaze toward FOMC for taper clues

       * Market waiting for more clues on taper timing from Fed
    * Aussie weakens as COVID-19 forces people out of workforce
    * Norway's crown near multi-month highs as crude oil soars

    By Kevin Buckland
    TOKYO, Sept 16 (Reuters) - The dollar languished near the
middle of its range of the past month versus major peers on
Thursday, as traders looked to next week's Federal Reserve
policy meeting for indications on how soon the U.S central bank
will start to taper stimulus.
    The dollar index, which measures the currency against
six rivals, was at 92.506, little changed from Wednesday.
    It reached a two-week high of 92.887 at the start of the
week, only to drop to a one-week low of 92.321 on Tuesday after
a softer-than-expected inflation report. Its low for the month
was 91.941, hit on Sept. 3, when payrolls data disappointed.
    "We're waiting for the FOMC next week - that remains the key
focus," said Shinichiro Kadota, senior FX strategist at Barclays
in Tokyo. "I don't think the dollar is going to go too far in
either direction (before that)."
    The Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) two-day policy
meeting ending Sept. 22 should provide some clarity on the
outlook for both tapering and eventual interest rate hikes.
    Tapering typically lifts the dollar as it suggests the Fed
is one step closer to tighter monetary policy.
    It also means the central bank will be buying fewer debt
assets, in effect reducing the amount of dollars in circulation,
which in turn lifts the currency's value.
    The dollar eased 0.1% to 109.24 yen, after sliding
to a six-week low of 109.110 in the previous session.
    The euro was mostly flat at $1.18095,
consolidating between the month's high and low of $1.1909 and
$1.17705.
    Kadota said the yen's strong performance on Wednesday may
have been helped by foreign flows into Japanese stocks, with the
Nikkei reaching a multi-decade high this week, as well
as traders covering of short positions.

    NORWAY'S CROWN
    Elsewhere, Norway's crown was little changed at
8.5776 per dollar, edging back toward the more than two-month
high of 8.5598 reached overnight amid a rally in oil prices.
    Against the euro, the crown touched its strongest
level since June 25 at 10.1119.
    "EURNOK is one of the preferred exposures to play a rising
crude price, and we're seeing a solid bearish trend here," Chris
Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne,
wrote in a note to clients.
    "If Brent and WTI crude are headed for their respective
double tops then EURNOK is going one way in my view."
    The Australian dollar slipped back toward the
lowest this month as Dalian iron ore prices slumped to a new low
for the year.
    The Aussie lost 0.16% to $0.7322, after dipping to $0.73015
on Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 31.
    Earlier, data showed the country's jobless rate unexpectedly
fell to 4.5%, but the statistics bureau said the change
reflected a drop in the participation rate rather than a
strengthening of the labour market.
    The New Zealand dollar was almost flat at $0.7110,
giving up an earlier jump of as much as 0.47% after the economy
grew at a much faster pace than expected. The strong gross
domestic product data reinforced the view that the central bank
will start lifting interest rates despite a recent outbreak of
the coronavirus.

========================================================
    Currency bid prices at 0536 GMT
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct     High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change
                                              Session
 Euro/Dollar                  $1.1807        $1.1816     -0.07%         -3.36%      +1.1820     +1.1807
 Dollar/Yen                   109.2550       109.3500    -0.09%         +5.77%      +109.4550   +109.2250
 Euro/Yen         Dollar/Swiss                 0.9203         0.9197      +0.07%         +4.02%      +0.9204     +0.9195
 Sterling/Dollar              1.3834         1.3843      -0.07%         +1.26%      +1.3852     +1.3834
 Dollar/Canadian              1.2637         1.2624      +0.07%         -0.79%      +1.2640     +1.2618
 Aussie/Dollar                0.7320         0.7334      -0.18%         -4.83%      +0.7345     +0.7321
 NZ                           0.7110         0.7110      +0.01%         -0.99%      +0.7140     +0.7109
 Dollar/Dollar


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 (Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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