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Dollar jumps in Asia on US sales data

TOKYO--The dollar rose in Asia Wednesday, extending gains it recorded in New York after a better-than-expected U.S. retail sales report.

In afternoon trade in Tokyo the dollar bought 104.42 yen, compared with 104.20 in New York and much stronger than the 103.43 yen in Asia earlier Tuesday. The euro fetched US$1.3633 compared with US$1.3677 in New York.

The euro was also easier at 142.39 yen against 142.52 yen but well up from the 141.27 yen Tuesday in Tokyo.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2 percent in December, surprising analysts who had predicted no change.

The news eased concerns about the economy after Friday's disappointing jobs report that had fuelled speculation the Federal Reserve could hold off announcing any further cuts to its stimulus program when it meets this month.

“The solid U.S. number soothed investors' concern on the economy caused by the disappointing jobs report last Friday,” Credit Agricole said.

Tuesday's data revived the possibility the Fed would again cut back its bond-buying program after last month saying it would reduce the scheme by US$10 billion to US$75 billion in January. A further pullback would be a positive for the dollar.

However, a senior bank dealer in Tokyo told Dow Jones Newswires that “for the market to test a new (dollar-yen) high we need more proof that the U.S. economy grows in a balanced manner.”

The euro won support after eurozone industrial output rebounded sharply in November, offering some reassurance that a modest recovery remains on track after heavy falls in October. Industrial output in the bloc jumped 1.8 percent in November after a slipping 0.8 percent in October, the Eurostat statistics office said.

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