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FOREX-US dollar at six-month highs vs yen, NZ dollar shines after upbeat China data

By Dhara Ranasinghe

* Rebound in Chinese manufacturing drives risk appetite

* Dollar at 6-month high vs yen, Kiwi jumps

* Euro steady ahead of new ECB chief testimony to parliament

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 (Updates with latest price action, adds chart, comment)

By Dhara Ranasinghe

LONDON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar scaled a six-month high versus the Japanese yen and New Zealand's currency jumped to near four-month peaks on Monday after an unexpected rebound in Chinese manufacturing activity lifted hopes of a brighter outlook for world growth.

The euro was steady ahead of a testimony by the European Central Bank's new president, Christine Lagarde, to the European parliament later in the day. A tightening British election race knocked the pound lower.

Latest data out of China, the world's second biggest economy, set the tone for currency markets. Chinese factory activity expanded at the quickest pace in almost three years in November, a private business survey showed on Monday, following upbeat official data over the weekend.

The survey also showed total new orders and factory production at buoyant levels.

"The fact that not only the Chinese PMI is better than expected but the underlying numbers are also encouraging plays into the narrative of other forward-looking numbers we've seen globally," said Jeremy Stretch, head of G10 FX strategy at CIBC capital markets.

"This gives reason for cautious optimism, even though we wait to see what happens on phase 1 of the trade U.S./China trade talks."

The U.S. dollar rallied to 109.73 yen, the highest since May, and was last up a quarter of a percent against the safe-haven Japanese currency at 109.63 yen.

Riskier currencies also rallied after the Chinese data, with New Zealand's dollar jumping to its highest in almost four months at $0.6475. It was up 0.75% on the day, while the Australian dollar rallied 0.4% at $0.6789.

Analysts said the Kiwi dollar was also buoyed by talk of fiscal stimulus to boost the New Zealand economy.

The New Zealand government plans a significant increase in infrastructure spending, making use of low borrowing costs to "build" the country, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Saturday.

Signs that the world economy, hit by a bitter U.S./China trade war, could be stabilising put the market spotlight on Monday's U.S. economic data.

The Institute for Supply Management's November manufacturing survey is due at 1500 GMT, followed later in the week by closely followed jobs data.

"The onus is now on the ISM data to see if there is a rebound, and the odds are on a bit of rebound but not a strong one," said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management. "Everyone is also really looking at the jobs data this week."

The euro was steady at $1.1015 before Lagarde's testimony to the European parliament later in the day. She took over at the ECB last month, and investors want a sense of the direction central bank policy will take under its new president.

Elsewhere, sterling was down a third of a percentage point at $1.29 as polls pointed to a narrowing lead for the governing Conservative Party before the UK's Dec. 12 election.

"There are increasing parallels with the way polls played out in 2017 with what we're seeing now, so that could cap the upside for sterling," said Stretch at CIBC, referring to the last UK election two years ago.

(Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; editing by Larry King)