By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar index was down slightly on Friday but registered a gain for the week as investors expected the U.S. Federal Reserve to remain aggressive when it hikes interest rates next week, while China's yuan eased past the key threshold of 7 per dollar.
The dollar mostly held a slight gain following U.S. data showing consumer sentiment improved moderately in September. The University of Michigan's preliminary September reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 59.5, up from 58.6 in the prior month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a preliminary reading of 60.0 in September.
The dollar, measured against a basket of currencies, declined 0.1% on the day to 109.68. It reached a two-decade high of 110.79 earlier this month. For the week, it was up 0.6%, and it is up about 15% for the year so far.
"This belief that we're very close to a peak dollar, very close to peak yields,... is getting pushed back. We're seeing a lot of strong bullish dollar calls," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda in New York.
"That positioning will probably be strongly reflected post-FOMC next week."
Investors expect a high chance of a 75-basis-point rate hike at next week's meeting and some chance of a 100-bps increase.
In crypto markets, ether, the token used in the Ethereum network, hit its lowest level since late July, and was last down 2.8%. Bitcoin last fell 0.47% to $19,598.00.
Earlier, the rising dollar pushed the offshore yuan past the critical threshold of 7 per dollar for the first time in more than two years overnight.
The onshore unit similarly broke the key level soon after markets opened on Friday. Data showed China's economy was surprisingly resilient in August, with factory output and retail sales both growing more than expected. But a deepening property slump weighed on the outlook.
Sterling fell against the dollar to a new 37-year low of $1.1351 and was last down 0.5% at $1.1416, while the euro was up 0.1% at $1.0008.
British retail sales fell much more than expected in August, in another sign that the economy is sliding into a recession as the cost of living crunch squeezes households' disposable spending.
While the Fed takes center stage next week, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) and the Bank of England are also expected to have monetary policy meetings.
The dollar was 0.4% lower against the yen at 142.87, but was up 0.2% for the week in its fifth straight week of gains.
Three sources familiar with the thinking of the BOJ said the central bank has no intention of raising rates or tweaking its dovish policy guidance to prop up the yen.
"With the risk of the Fed that possibly could go a full point on Wednesday and with the Japanese holiday on Monday ... you're probably going to see a little bit more patience in deciding when to make a move," Moya said. "Any intervention now could be crushed by a Fed decision."
Currency bid prices at 3:38PM (1938 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
109.6800 109.7900 -0.08% 14.652% +110.2600 +109.4600
$1.0008 $0.9995 +0.14% -11.96% +$1.0036 +$0.9945
142.8700 143.4900 -0.43% +24.11% +143.6850 +142.8300
142.99 143.48 -0.34% +9.72% +143.5300 +142.5200
0.9647 0.9619 +0.28% +5.74% +0.9660 +0.9603
$1.1416 $1.1472 -0.50% -15.59% +$1.1479 +$1.1351
1.3279 1.3226 +0.43% +5.06% +1.3307 +1.3228
$0.6714 $0.6701 +0.18% -7.65% +$0.6724 +$0.6670
0.9653 0.9613 +0.42% -6.91% +0.9666 +0.9579
0.8765 0.8720 +0.52% +4.35% +0.8784 +0.8715
Dollar/Dollar $0.5989 $0.5965 +0.39% -12.51% +$0.5992 +$0.5940
10.2015 10.1770 +0.49% +16.08% +10.2870 +10.1790
10.2136 10.1668 +0.46% +1.98% +10.2420 +10.1589
10.7594 10.7200 +0.34% +19.31% +10.8213 +10.7159
10.7691 10.7325 +0.34% +5.23% +10.7940 +10.7230
(Additional reporting by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes in London, and Rae Wee in Singapore; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Deepa Babington and Jonathan Oatis)