FOREX-Dollar steady near recent highs ahead of US jobs data

Fri Apr 4, 2014 1:03am EDT

Related Topics

* Consensus expects biggest nonfarm payrolls increase in 4 months

* Euro under pressure, close to one-month low vs dollar

* ECB's Draghi says committed to also using unconventional tools

By Lisa Twaronite and Ian Chua

TOKYO/SYDNEY, April 4 (Reuters) - The dollar traded close to a five-week high against a basket of currencies in Asia on Friday, as investors positioned for the possibility of an upside surprise in U.S. non-farm payrolls due later in the day.

Analysts polled by Reuters expect the economy to have created 200,000 jobs in March, which would be the highest in four months, after rising by 175,000 in February. The unemployment rate is seen falling one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.6 percent.

The greenback's momentum was limited, however, as Thursday's initial claims for unemployment benefits showed an increase of 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000 in the week ended March 29, exceeding economists' expectations of a rise to 317,000.

The dollar index rose slightly on the day to 80.478, not far from its Thursday peak of 80.532, which was its highest level since Feb. 27.

Against the yen, the dollar was steady at 103.90 yen, after rising as high as 104.12 yen on Thursday, its first time above the 104.00 level since Jan. 23.

"Some voices are talking about targets of 108, 110 yen for the dollar again," said Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.

"Still, for now, the dollar will likely have a tough time rising above 105 yen," he said.

The euro traded close to a one-month low against the dollar, having suffered a setback after the European Central Bank opened up the possibility of printing money following a widely-expected decision to leave interest rates unchanged.

ECB President Mario Draghi said the Governing Council was unanimous in its commitment to also using "unconventional instruments within its mandate in order to cope effectively with risks of a too prolonged period of low inflation."

The unconventional instruments included quantitative easing, the printing of money to buy assets, measures that previously were considered highly undesirable by some euro zone central bankers.

"We continue to believe that the ECB is running unnecessary risks in its slow response to low inflation and expect non-conventional monetary easing measures before year-end," analysts at Barclays Capital wrote in a note to clients.

The common currency fell as low $1.3698 on Thursday after Draghi spoke, and was last down about 0.1 percent on the day at $1.3711.

Against the yen, the euro slipped about 0.1 percent to 142.47, pulling away from a four-week peak of 143.48 set on Wednesday.

The Australian dollar rose about 0.1 percent to $0.9236 , moving back toward its four-month peak of $0.9310 touched earlier this week.

A stronger U.S. dollar could set up the Aussie for a test of$0.9190 and then $0.9152, the 38.2 percent and 50 percent retracement levels of its March 20 to April 1 rally. (Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Borsuk)

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