Euro, dollar on soft ground over Ukraine, ECB comment

TOKYO- The dollar was delicately balanced in Asia on Friday as investors braced for disputed local independence referendums in Ukraine that could further ramp up global tension and undermine optimism, analysts said.

While traders were largely holding their breath for events on the ground, a slight rebound in Japanese shares on Friday was providing some temporary support for the greenback.

The dollar was at 101.63 yen, compared with 101.66 yen in New York Thursday.

The euro was $1.3835 and 140.61 yen, off from $1.3840 and 140.69 yen.

Pro-Russian forces in Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine have said they are moving ahead with independence referendums, despite a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin to postpone the vote.

“There are risks of violence before and after the vote, if it happens. It’s difficult to take dollar-long positions before the weekend,” said Yuji Saito, executive director of foreign exchange at Credit Agricole in Tokyo.

But recovery of the Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange for now was providing support for the US unit, he added.

The headline index opened Friday in negative territory, but ended the morning up 0.59 percent at 14,247.57.

Routine seasonal moves by hedge funds were also encouraging buying of US Treasuries and sales of stocks, which can put pressure on the dollar, analysts said.

The euro also remained under pressure after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said the bank was prepared to further ease monetary conditions next month if the economy needed it.

The ECB’s governing council was “dissatisfied” with the current path of inflation and was “not prepared to accept it as a fact of nature,” Draghi said.

As a result, the governing council “is comfortable with acting next time,” he said.