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FOREX-Euro gains against dollar on robust PMI surveys

* Robust French, German PMIs help euro

* Fed’s Williams repeats mid-year rate rise may be appropriate

* Dollar still feeling impact of last week’s dovish Fed statement

* Aussie slips briefly after weak China flash HSBC PMI

By Ahmed Aboulenein

LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) – The euro rose for the third day running against the dollar on Tuesday, bolstered by better-than-expected euro zone business surveys that pointed to a broader recovery taking place in the currency bloc.

The dollar was under pressure, with investors awaiting consumer price inflation data later in the day. A softer number, as was registered earlier on Tuesday in Britain, could boost expectations that the Federal Reserve will be in no hurry to raise interest rates.

San Francisco Fed chief John Williams weighed in on the debate over the dollar’s gains, saying the U.S. economy could handle a stronger currency and pointing to the chance of an interest rate rise in June.

Other Federal Reserve officials, and new forecasts from the U.S. central bank, have cast doubt on how much more appreciation of the dollar the Fed will easily tolerate and raised speculation it will push back any tightening of monetary policy.

The euro was up 0.4 percent at $ 1.0984, having risen to $ 1.10 after the business surveys were released. In a sign the European Central Bank’s bond buying programme may already be paying dividends, the composite purchasing managers’ survey for the 19 members of the euro zone jumped to a near four-year high of 54.1 in March, well above forecasts.

“Any positive surprises from the euro area are further adding to this euro/dollar rally. However, we think this is temporary; we still believe in the dollar strength trend going into the second half of the year,” said Nikolaos Sgouropoulos, FX strategist at Barclays in London.

Many major bank strategists forecast the euro to fall close to parity with the dollar this year, but the pace of its dive to $ 1.05 earlier this month took many by surprise and prompted JP Morgan and HSBC to suggest the rally may be coming to an end.

“The bigger question of whether the economic recovery has any legs remains unanswered,” Societe Generale analysts said in a note.

“In the meantime, after breaking above key resistance at $ 1.0940 yesterday, the euro’s next technical target is $ 1.1070 and we’d be more interested in re-selling there than in looking for much follow-though from this morning’s initial weakness.”

The Swiss franc, meanwhile, rose to a three-week high against the dollar and a six-week peak versus the euro .

Against the yen, the dollar eased 0.3 percent to about 119.40 yen, near the bottom of its 122.04 yen to 119.29 yen range seen over the past couple of weeks.

(editing by John Stonestreet)

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