Dollar steady in Asian trade

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Tokyo - The dollar held steady in Asia on Thursday ahead of key US jobs data seen as crucial for the timing of the Federal Reserve's stimulus pullback, while the euro treaded water as European central bankers meet later in the day.

The greenback bought 102.34 yen in midday Tokyo trading, little changed from 102.32 yen in New York on Wednesday afternoon.

The euro fetched $1.3584 and 139.08 yen, against $1.3591 and 139.06 yen.

The dollar got a lift on Wednesday after payrolls firm ADP reported US private-sector hiring surged in November, with a net 215 000 new jobs created, the strongest month so far in 2013 and well above analyst expectations.

Other US data also came in better than anticipated, including a sharp rebound in new-home sales and a shrinking foreign trade deficit, helping to offset a slowdown in services-sector growth.

Traders took in stride the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report, which showed a generally good picture of the world's biggest economy in recent weeks.

A strong jobs report on Friday is almost certain to boost speculation the Fed would start tapering its $85-billion-a-month asset-purchase programme before year's end.

The central bank's next policy meeting starts on December 17.

“US November payrolls data to be released tomorrow will be crucial to provide more decisive clues to the timing of Fed tapering,” Credit Agricole said.

Markets have also been speculating over whether ECB policymakers will launch fresh easing measures after cutting interest rates to a record low of 0.25 percent last month.

But “we do not expect any ECB action on policy rates at today's meeting”, Credit Agricole said.

“At the same time, some further changes to communication are possible in order to maintain an easing bias and to enhance forward guidance,” it added.

The yen has been under pressure as some investors bet the Bank of Japan will launch further stimulus to help boost the world's third-largest economy.

Despite dovish comments from BoJ officials, the central bank held off announcing any fresh measures after its meeting last month, saying it was “recovering moderately” and that efforts to stoke inflation were taking hold.

“It may take further announcements of easing from the Bank of Japan to inspire the next up-leg in the dollar-yen rate,” National Australia Bank said. - AFP

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