Sentiment boosts US dollar

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Graphic: Renjith Krishnan.

Tokyo - Buoyant investor sentiment lifted the dollar against the yen and euro in Asia on Friday, while the Thai baht held firm after a military coup that followed months of deadly street protests.

In afternoon Tokyo trading, the greenback fetched 101.75 yen compared with 101.72 yen in New York Thursday.

The euro inched down to 138.85 yen from 138.90 yen and to $1.3647 from $1.3653, following a slight downturn in a key eurozone gauge of business activity.

Traders remain upbeat following a sharp improvement in Chinese manufacturing activity and positive comments about interest rates from the US Federal Reserve.

On Thursday, the US Labor Department said initial jobless claims, a measure of the pace of layoffs, ticked up slightly from the previous week, while existing homes sales were 1.3 percent higher in April, the first positive month so far this year.

“The trend is declining and we should see further improvements in the unemployment rate in coming months,” National Australia Bank said of the US jobless figures.

“In contrast to the better Chinese and US manufacturing data, European manufacturing readings were disappointing,” it added.

Markit Economics' May composite purchasing managers index (PMI) for the eurozone fell to 53.9 points from 54 in April, a slight pullback in the pace of expansion.

The baht was changing hands at 32.53 against the dollar from 32.54 on Thursday.

Thailand's new military junta summoned the kingdom's ousted leaders Friday as an international outcry grew over a military coup that has brought a harsh crackdown on civil liberties.

Claiming the army was acting to halt months of deadly political turmoil, tough-talking military chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha declared a nationwide night-time curfew and ordered masses of rival demonstrators off the streets.

“The coup reduces uncertainty about the immediate outlook and, in particular, the possibility that the political standoff would turn much more violent,” said Mark Williams, chief Asia economist for Capital Economics.

“For these reasons it could actually be positive both for Thailand's economy and financial markets in the near term.”

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It dropped to 58.48 Indian rupees from 58.61 rupees, to 43.61

Philippine pesos from 43.72 pesos, and to 1,023.79 South Korean won from 1,024.75 won.

The greenback rose to Sg$1.2522 from Sg$1.2509 and to 11,555.80

Indonesian rupiah from 11,526.80 rupiah while it was unchanged at Tw$30.12.

The Australian dollar slipped to 92.41 US cents from 92.66 cents while the Chinese yuan was flat at 16.28 yen. - Sapa-AFP


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