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US dollar up as market awaits Fed chief

AFP--The dollar edged up in Asia on Wednesday after selling on weak U.S. data petered out ahead of Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen.

The U.S. unit was changing hands at 102.32 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade against 102.22 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.

The euro, which was helped by upward revisions to growth forecasts for the European Union on Tuesday, bought US$1.3739 compared with US$1.3744 while rising to 140.58 yen from 140.49 yen.

In the United States the Case-Shiller index for home prices in 20 leading U.S. cities fell 0.1 percent in December, the second straight monthly decline, while the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 78.1 in February from 79.4 in January.

Investors are now waiting for Thursday's testimony by Yellen to the Senate Banking Committee on the economy and Fed policy, which has been delayed due to the bad weather.

Her testimony to the House of Representatives two weeks ago was hardly revealing, except to show that the Fed remains fairly confident in its forecasts for growth this year despite the sluggishness of December and January.

“The (Senate) speech would normally be the same as the one given to the House... but the delay may elicit a re-write. That would provide a substantial clue to where the Fed sits,” NAB said.

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

The greenback rose to SG$1.2644 Wednesday afternoon from SG$1.2622 the previous day, to 11,637 Indonesian rupiah from 11,627 rupiah and to 32.56 Thai baht from 32.50 baht.

It sank to 1,066.66 South Korean won from 1,070.77 won and to 61.97 Indian rupees from 62.02 rupees while remaining unchanged at 44.60 Philippine pesos.

The Australian dollar fell to 90.05 U.S. cents from 90.29 cents and the Chinese yuan fetched 16.70 yen against 16.75 yen.

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