Dollar edges up in Asia

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Tokyo - The dollar edged up in Asia on Wednesday after selling on weak US data petered out ahead of Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen.

The US unit was changing hands at 102.35 yen in Tokyo morning trade against 102.22 yen in New York on Tuesday afternoon.

The euro, which was helped by upward revisions to growth forecasts for the European Union on Tuesday, bought $1.3743 compared with $1.3744 while rising to 140.66 yen from 140.49 yen.

In the United States the Case-Shiller index for home prices in 20 leading US cities fell 0.1 percent in December, the second straight monthly decline, while the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 78.1 in February from 79.4 in January.

“It's getting very hard to have something original to say about the US data at present, everything has one explanation: the weather,” National Australia Bank (NAB) said in a note in reference to the severe winter that has pummelled North America in recent weeks.

“If that is true or not, we will have to wait a month or so in order to get a less fogged-over picture,” it said, adding that markets took the data as generally negative with the safe-haven yen outperforming.

Investors are now waiting for Thursday's testimony by Yellen to the Senate Banking Committee on the economy and Fed policy, which has been delayed due to the bad weather.

Her testimony to the House of Representatives two weeks ago was hardly revealing, except to show that the Fed remains fairly confident in its forecasts for growth this year despite the sluggishness of December and January.

“The (Senate) speech would normally be the same as the one given to the House... but the delay may elicit a re-write. That would provide a substantial clue to where the Fed sits,” NAB said.

Hiromichi Shirakawa, Credit Suisse research analyst, said there was a chance that Yellen's testimony would show slight changes from the February 11 version to the House committee.

“We could not help becoming more pessimistic about the global economic outlook” if the Fed expresses no concerns over the continuing worsening of the housing market and sticks to its plans to wind down its stimulus programme, he said in a note. - AFP


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