Greenback edges up in Asia

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Tokyo - The dollar edged up in Asia on Friday ahead of US jobs data later in the day that are seen as key to the Federal Reserve's plans for its stimulus programme.

The greenback fetched 101.84 yen in Tokyo midday trade, slightly up from 101.77 yen in New York on Thursday.

The euro bought $1.3665 and 139.18 yen, against $1.3666 and 139.08 yen in US trade.

The US Commerce Department on Thursday said the world's biggest economy grew 3.6 percent in the third quarter, well above the 3.0 percent predicted by analysts.

Also, the Labour Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits, a sign of the pace of layoffs, fell below 300 000 last week.

The upbeat figures are the latest pointing to a pick-up in the US economy, raising the prospect of the Fed cutting its monetary easing scheme this month instead of early next year.

A pullback on the scheme is seen as positive for the dollar.

“The focus today is clearly on the non-farm payrolls as a strong number could really tilt the balance of timing of tapering, at least in terms of market expectation of such timing,” Credit Agricole said.

Also Thursday, the European Central Bank held its key interest rate at a record low of 0.25 percent, while raising its forecast for the eurozone's gradual recovery despite prolonged low inflation.

The decision follows the ECB's surprise cut last month of its central refinancing rate by a quarter-point to counter the threat of deflation.

The bank, like its counterparts in the US and Japan, has used super-low rates and injected liquidity into the financial system to encourage lending and thereby boost investment and consumer spending.

ECB President Mario Draghi said the cheap money would keep flowing, reiterating that he expected “key rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time”.

“Our monetary policy stance will remain accommodative for as long as necessary, and will thereby continue to assist the gradual economic recovery in the euro area,” he said.

The ECB maintained its forecast that the economy of the 17-member currency bloc would shrink 0.4 percent this year, but predicted 1.1 percent growth next year, up from an earlier forecast of 1.0 percent. - AFP

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