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Dollar higher in Asia ahead of United States employment data

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

In afternoon Tokyo trading the greenback fetched 102.36 yen, slightly up from 102.30 yen in New York Thursday.

The euro was nearly flat at US$1.3860 and 141.88 yen compared with US$1.3867 and 141.89 yen in U.S. trade.

Investors were taking a wait-and-see view ahead of Friday's U.S. employment data as they look to see if it confirms that the world's biggest economy is rebounding after a near-stall in the first quarter.

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

Earlier this week, the Fed said the economy was picking up after 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 program by US$10 billion a month to US$45 billion as the economy recovers, a move that lends support to the dollar.

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 labor 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.

In other trading, the dollar weakened to 1,030.94 South Korean won from 1,033.30 won and to 44.55 Philippine pesos from 44.59 pesos.

The greenback also slipped to 11,535 Indonesian rupiah from 11,562.30 rupiah while it rose to 32.39 Thai baht from 32.36 baht and to SG$1.2534 from SG$1.2532.

The Australian dollar weakened to 92.77 U.S. cents from 93.00 cents while the Chinese yuan changed hands at 16.35 yen, compared with 16.30 yen.

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