* Euro remains well off recent 2-month low after Draghi
reassures on deflation
* Aussie treads water ahead of RBA policy statement
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Feb 7 The dollar drifted slightly lower
in early Asian trading on Friday, as investors cautiously
awaited the latest non-farm payrolls report for clues on the
health of the U.S. labour market and the broader economy.
The payrolls data, which is due later Friday, is expected
to show that employers added 185,000 jobs in January, according
to the median estimate of 101 economists polled by Reuters.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment
benefits fell more than expected last week, data showed on
Thursday, dropping by 20,000 new claims.
"The non-farm payrolls report is always an important release
for the U.S. dollar but this month in particular, it could make
or break the greenback," Kathy Lien, managing director at BK
Asset Management, said in a note to clients.
"In January, the U.S. dollar collapsed and officially peaked
after the worst NFP report in nearly 3 years. This month
investors are hoping for a strong rebound that will restore
demand for U.S. assets," she said.
But even if labour conditions improve, Boston Federal
Reserve President Eric Rosengren said late Thursday that the
central bank should be "quite patient" in removing stimulus
because broader measures of the U.S. labour market remain weak.
Rosengren, considered a dovish Fed official, said the labour
market conditions remain far from those which would warrant
higher interest rates.
Other data released on Thursday showed U.S. exports
weakening in December, which could drag on growth if that trend
were sustained into the first quarter.
The dollar drifted down about 0.2 percent against a basket
of currencies to 80.886, and shed about 0.1 percent
against its Japanese counterpart to 102.03 yen.
The euro was steady against the greenback after rallying to
a one-week high of $1.3619 on Thursday, following
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's comment that the
euro zone is not plagued by deflation.
The ECB left interest rates unchanged at its policy meeting
on Thursday, opting to wait for more data before taking action.
Euro zone inflation eased to 0.7 percent last month and
retail sales on Wednesday fell short of expectations, while
recent upbeat business sentiment surveys add up to a mixed
picture of economic conditions in the euro zone.
The euro was last steady on the day at $1.3589, well off a
more than two-month low of $1.3475 plumbed on Monday. It gave up
about 0.1 percent against the yen to 138.64 yen,
though it remained above a more than two-month low of 136.20 yen
hit on Tuesday.
The Australian dollar inched slightly lower to
$0.8950 as investors awaited the Reserve Bank of Australia's
latest statement on monetary policy.
The Aussie surged over half a U.S. cent on Tuesday after the
RBA dropped its bias towards easing policy and toned down its
rhetoric calling for a weaker currency.