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Dollar down in Asia ahead of Yellen testimony

TOKYO--The dollar eased against the yen in Asia on Wednesday, extending losses seen in New York, as investors await the Congressional testimony of U.S. central bank chief Janet Yellen.

The greenback fetched 101.57 yen in afternoon Tokyo trade, down from 101.73 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.

The euro was flat at 141.46 yen from 141.67 yen while it bought US$1.3921 against US$1.3926.

Concerns about the Ukraine crisis helped push up the Japanese unit, which is seen as a safe bet in times of economic and political uncertainty.

“Events in Ukraine ... continue to affect sentiment, with the region still the brink of civil war,” National Australia Bank said.

Russia rejected a new peace initiative for Ukraine on Tuesday as fears of a full-scale war mounted in the ex-Soviet republic, whose troops are waging a deadly offensive against pro-Moscow rebels.

The euro held steady thanks to improved confidence in the eurozone after Italy's long-term borrowing costs fell below the three percent level for the first time since the creation of the single currency.

That followed a similar fall in Spanish 10-year bonds last week.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday solid job growth in April and a sharp drop in the unemployment rate, but investors were unconvinced the figures were enough to prompt the Fed to hike interest rates in the short term.

Eyes are now on Yellen's comments at a Senate hearing of the Joint Economic Committee later in the day, as investors look for clues on the U.S. economic outlook and the bank's plans for its stimulus program.

The greenback was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

The dollar weakened to SG$1.2481 from SG$1.2507 on Tuesday, to 1,025.45 South Korean won from 1,025.50 won, and to 44.31 Philippine pesos from 44.37 pesos.

The dollar firmed to 32.39 Thai baht from 32.37 baht while it was unchanged at 11,522 Indonesian rupiah.

The Australian dollar rose to 93.38 U.S. cents from 93.12 cents while the Chinese yuan slipped to 16.30 yen from 16.37 yen.

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