Dollar steady ahead of jobs data

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Tokyo - The dollar held steady in Asia on Thursday as investors await the release of key US jobs data and a European Central Bank (ECB) policy meeting.

The greenback bought 101.45 yen in Tokyo midday trade, compared with 101.49 yen in New York on Wednesday afternoon.

The euro also drifted to $1.3529 and 137.21 yen from $1.3536 and 137.38 yen as investors weigh the likelihood of an ECB interest rate cut later Thursday to boost eurozone growth.

Kengo Suzuki, chief FX strategist at Mizuho Securities, said investors' risk appetite was recovering after heavy sell-offs in stock markets this week saw a surge in the yen, which is considered a safe haven in times of turmoil.

“Although the dollar hasn't set a clear direction ahead of US jobs data on Friday, it appears to be regaining some stability,” Suzuki told Dow Jones Newswires.

The US non-farm payrolls data for January will be closely watched after a weak US manufacturing report triggered wider concerns about the global economy and helped send equity markets tumbling.

The data Friday will help markets gauge the state of the US economy as the Federal Reserve winds down its stimulus programme.

The Fed announcement last week rattled emerging markets such as India, South Africa and Russia on fears of a capital flight, which in turn sent their currencies diving.

Poor China data has also dampened investors' spirits, dealers said.

European data were mixed ahead of Thursday's ECB policy meeting. A report from Markit Economics on eurozone private sector business activity in January showed the seventh monthly rise in a row.

But separate figures showed retail sales in the currency bloc fell 1.6 percent in December.

Speculation over an ECB interest rate cut has been growing after inflation eased to 0.7 percent in January, from 0.8 percent in December, as the region struggles to recover from its debts crisis. The bank's target is for 2.0 percent inflation. - AFP

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