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US dollar calm after surge over Yellen hint

TOKYO--The U.S. dollar held steady in Asia on Thursday, after surging in New York as Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen hinted that interest rates could rise early next year, sooner than expected.

The greenback fetched 102.30 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, slightly down from 102.32 yen late in New York but much stronger than the 101.51 yen in Tokyo earlier Wednesday.

The euro bought US$1.3831 and 141.52 yen, mixed from US$1.3827 and 141.53 yen in U.S. trade.

Emerging-market currencies were mostly lower as the hawkish Fed hurt risk appetite.

The Fed announced Wednesday it would shave another US$10 billion off its bond-buying stimulus — to US$55 billion a month — saying the economy was picking up and a recent spate of soft data was caused by severe winter weather.

But, while the move was expected, Yellen also surprised markets at a news conference, stating that the timeframe for a rate hike could be “on the order of around six months” after the stimulus ends.

With the present rate of reduction likely to see asset purchases tapered off by the end of this year, that means rates could go up in the first half of 2015. Some analysts have previously forecast a rise taking place at the back end of next year.

“We should pay attention to the possibility that the era of a firm dollar and weak stocks will start,” said Hiromishi Shirakawa, research analyst at Credit Suisse.

The dollar firmed to 61.15 Indian rupees Thursday afternoon from 61.08 rupees on Wednesday, to 11,425 Indonesian rupiah from 11,345.00 rupiah, and to 45.06 Philippine pesos from 44.86 pesos.

The dollar was also higher against other Asia-Pacific currencies, buying 1,075.74 South Korean won from 1,070.65 won.

It rose to SG$1.2735 from SG$1.2653, and to 32.35 Thai baht from 32.14 baht, while the Australian dollar slipped to 90.17 U.S. cents from 91.15 cents.

The Chinese yuan fetched 16.42 yen against 16.34 yen.

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