Dollar higher in Asia before US jobs data

TOKYO- The dollar strengthened in Asia on Friday as upbeat comments from the Federal Reserve and positive data supported the unit ahead of key US jobs figures later in the day.

In midday Tokyo trading, the greenback fetched 102.36 yen against 102.30 yen in New York Thursday.

The euro slipped to $1.3858 and 141.84 yen compared with $1.3867 and 141.89 yen in US trade.

Investors are hoping that Friday’s US employment data will confirm that the world’s biggest economy is rebounding after a near-stall in the first quarter.

“The US monthly jobs report will be the key focus today and a healthy reading is expected,” Credit Agricole said.

“Employment-related information released so far this month is consistent with a solid pace of hiring and we expect to see some continued payback from the downside winter-weather distortions in previous months.”

Earlier this week, the Fed said the economy was picking up after a sub-zero temperatures saw growth slow to just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of the year.

The central bank added that it would further reduce its stimulus programme by $10 billion a month to $45 billion as the economy recovers, a move that lends support to the dollar.

The jobs figures may provide “the right moment to go ahead with dollar buying and yen selling,” Yunosuke Ikeda, head of FX strategy and global market research at Nomura Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Currency markets were largely unaffected by fresh Japanese economic data which showed household spending jumped in March on high demand ahead of an April sales tax rise while the jobless rate stayed at its lowest level in more than six years, as the labour market tightened.

The figures came two days after Bank of Japan policymakers cut their economic growth expectations, but held fire on new stimulus measures as they keep an eye on the impact of the April 1 tax hike.

Japanese financial markets will be closed Monday and Tuesday for a national holiday.