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TOKYO: The US dollar nursed its wounds on Tuesday following its biggest drop in nearly three weeks against major peers, as Federal Reserve policymakers allayed investor fears of a very rapid tightening of monetary policy.

The Australian dollar remained firm after its biggest jump in eight months overnight ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia policy decision later on Tuesday, with expectation building that Governor Philip Lowe will capitulate on his prior conviction that an interest rate rise this year was unlikely.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six rivals, ticked 0.05% higher to 96.715, barely making a dent in Monday's 0.59% tumble. It was at an almost 19-month high of 97.441 at the end of last week, as investors pondered chances the Fed could raise rates by 50 basis points in March.

Trading in Asian hours may be subdued with several markets on holiday for the Lunar New Year.

Rupee records marginal gain against US dollar

A chorus of Fed officials on Monday backed a lift-off in rates in March, but spoke cautiously about what might follow.

Money markets price in a quarter-point rise for March, and four more by year-end.

"Recent Fed remarks appeared to push back on the odds of a 50bp rate hike in March," putting the focus on economic data this week for clues on the pace of policy tightening, including the closely watched monthly payrolls report on Friday, TD Securities strategists wrote in a note.

US payrolls are forecast to show a gain of 153,000 jobs for January, down from 199,000 in December, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.9%, according to a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, the Aussie was little changed at $0.7067 after soaring 1.06% on Monday, its biggest gain since early June.

Australian inflation is surging at the fastest annual pace since 2014, suggesting price pressures are not as benign and transitory as policymakers thought they would be.

"It is impractical and unlikely the RBA can continue to hold a dovish stance," the TD Securities strategists wrote, predicting a hike in August or earlier.

A Reuters poll of economists puts the odds of a first hike in November.

The Bank of England holds its policy meeting on Thursday, with a Reuters poll predicting a second rate hike in less than two months after UK inflation jumped to its highest in nearly 30 years.

The European Central Bank also meets on Thursday. While no policy change is expected, analysts said the Fed's looming rate hikes will narrow the ECB's window for action.

The euro slipped 0.11% to $1.12235, following a 0.80% jump on Monday.

Sterling was flat at $1.34385 after gaining 0.33% in the previous session.

The greenback was little changed at 115.125 yen.

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