Dollar edges down in Asia

TOKYO- The dollar eased in Asia on Wednesday, extending losses seen in New York, as investors await the Congressional testimony of US central bank chief Janet Yellen.

The dollar fell to 101.57 yen in midday Tokyo trade from 101.73 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.

The euro eased to 141.48 yen from 141.67 yen while also buying $1.3928 against $1.3926.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which was closed on Monday and Tuesday, fell 2.30 percent by the break owing to the stronger yen.

Concerns about the Ukraine crisis also helped push up the Japanese unit, which is seen as a safe bet in times of economic and political uncertainty.

Russia rejected a new peace initiative for Ukraine on Tuesday as fears of a civil war mounted in the ex-Soviet republic, whose troops are waging a deadly offensive against pro-Moscow rebels.

The euro was also up against the dollar thanks to improved confidence in the eurozone after Italy’s long-term borrowing costs fell below the three percent level for the first time since the creation of the single currency.

That followed a similar fall in Spanish 10-year bonds last week.

The US Labor Department reported Friday solid job growth in April and a sharp drop in the unemployment rate, but investors were unconvinced the figures were enough to prompt the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates sooner than later.

Eyes are now on Yellen’s statement at a Senate hearing of the Joint Economic Committee later in the day, looking for a steer on the US economic outlook and the bank’s plans for its stimulus programme.