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Key lawmakers throw support behind Obama nominee for Treasury post

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two powerful U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday said they supported the Obama administration's nominee for the Treasury's top post for international affairs, suggesting an easy road to confirmation.

During a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, the panel's Democratic chairman and its ranking Republican member described Nathan Sheets as well qualified to be the Treasury's under secretary for international affairs.

"I support all three of you," Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, the committee's ranking member, told Sheets and two other nominees for senior administration posts.

President Barack Obama nominated Sheets, who is currently a senior adviser to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and previously worked at the Federal Reserve and Citigroup, in February.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sheets said he would continue to press Washington's view that China should let market forces determine the value of its currency. The Treasury and U.S. manufacturers say China's currency is undervalued, giving its exports an advantage in global markets.

Sheets noted the yuan currency has appreciated "notably" in the last few years, but said it would remain a issue.

"I see significant work to be done," Sheets said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sheets would play a central role in U.S. financial diplomacy and help shape international discussions on the global economy.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden also said he supported Sheets for the job and hoped the committee would approve his nomination "soon."

The post was previously held by Lael Brainard, who stepped down last year and was subsequently nominated and confirmed to the Fed's board of governors.

Prior to his current post at the Treasury, Sheets was global head of international economics at Citi in New York. Before joining Citi in 2011, Sheets spent much of his career as an economist at the Fed.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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