FOREX-Dollar firms after upbeat U.S. retail sales data
* Dollar edges away from recent lows vs yen as safe-haven bid fades
* Euro pressured by ECB officials' hints at more easing
* Aussie edges down as RBA minutes awaited
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, April 15 (Reuters) - The dollar started off the Asian session on firmer footing on Tuesday, after U.S. retail sales data signalled a brighter outlook for the U.S. economy.
U.S. retail sales recorded their largest gain in 1-1/2 years in March, the latest data set to suggest growth was set to spring back in the second quarter after an unusually harsh winter.
Moreover, U.S. equities roared back to life on Monday after recent steep losses, powered by an upbeat earnings report from Citi.
"The generally positive incoming data was enough to reverse some of the safe-haven bid from the pick-up in geopolitical risks over the weekend," strategists at Barclays said in a note to clients.
Investors remained wary of developments in Ukraine, where any escalation might quickly cause risk appetite to evaporate. Armed pro-Russian separatists seized more buildings in eastern Ukraine on Monday, expanding their control after the government failed to follow through on threatened military crackdown.
France's foreign minister said on Monday that the EU could hold an emergency summit next week about further sanctions against Russia, depending on the outcome of talks with Ukraine scheduled for Thursday in Geneva.
The dollar index added about 0.1 percent to 79.776. Against the yen, the greenback edged up to 101.93 yen, moving away from Friday's 3-1/2-week low of 101.32 yen.
The euro remained under pressure from weekend comments from European Central Bank officials, including ECB President Mario Draghi, who rekindled speculation about more easing in the euro zone.
The euro was slightly lower against the dollar at $1.3815 , moving further away from a 3-1/2-week peak of $1.3906 touched on Friday.
Against the yen, though, it managed a slight rise on the day to 140.81 yen as the Japanese unit's safe-haven appeal dimmed.
The Australian dollar edged down about 0.1 percent to $0.9412, awaiting minutes of the last Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting due out later in the session. (Editing by Eric Meijer)
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