March 7, 2014 / 4:20 AM / 5 years ago

FOREX-Euro clings to post-ECB gains, U.S. jobs data eyed

* Euro holds near 2-month peaks against dollar

* Dollar/yen hovers near 5-week high, Ukraine wariness seen capping gains

* Expectations for U.S. jobs lowered by soft ADP, ISM reports

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Masayuki Kitano

TOKYO/SINGAPORE, March 7 (Reuters) - The euro held steady near a two-month high against the dollar on Friday, pausing in the wake of a European Central Bank inspired rally, as trade turned cautious ahead of U.S. jobs data.

The euro last stood at $1.3858, within a stone’s throw of a two-month peak of $1.3873 hit on Thursday after the ECB decided to stand pat on policy and held off from fresh monetary stimulus.

The ECB left interest rates unchanged on Thursday and ECB President Mario Draghi told a news conference that economic conditions in the region did not require a shift in monetary policy.

Against the yen, the single currency eased 0.2 percent to 142.65 yen, after brushing a two-month high of 142.99 yen earlier on Friday.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar’s value against a basket of major currencies, stood little changed at 79.667 after falling to a four-month low of 79.59 on Thursday on the euro’s post-ECB surge.

The dollar’s near-term fortunes are seen hinging on Friday’s U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, due at 1330 GMT. The data is likely to show job growth in the United States picked up enough in February to encourage the Federal Reserve to continue scaling back its monetary stimulus.

A Reuters poll of economists found employers were expected to have added 149,000 workers to their payrolls last month.

But market watchers said the market may be bracing for a weaker reading following the soft ADP private sector jobs report and ISM services sector survey released earlier this week.

“There’s a very wide range on this one now. I think the market has already priced in a lower number,” said Jeffrey Halley, FX trader for Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore, referring to the U.S. nonfarm payrolls data.

“I think it would have to come in well under 100,000 for it to have any significant downside effect on dollar/yen,” he added.

The dollar eased 0.2 percent to 102.91 yen. Earlier, the dollar touched a high of 103.17 yen, matching a five-week high that had been set on Thursday.

“The market could treat the consensus figure of 150,000 jobs as a positive surprise. Considering the severe winter conditions, a number through to 120,000 may not be considered a letdown,” said Ayako Sera, senior market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust in Tokyo.

A solid U.S. nonfarm payrolls report would help the greenback consolidate its position above 103 yen but participants will be wary of pushing too far as the crisis in Ukraine appears far from over, Sera at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust said.

The yen, along with the Swiss franc, is considered a safe haven currency and received a boost earlier this week when tensions in the Crimea heightened.

The Australian dollar held steady at $0.9089, not far from a three-month high of $0.9114 reached Thursday after upbeat retail sales and trade data supported a steady interest rate outlook.

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