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Euro, dollar on soft ground over Ukraine poll

TOKYO -- The dollar was delicately balanced in Asia on Friday as investors braced for disputed local independence referendums in Ukraine that could further ramp up global tension and undermine optimism, analysts said.

While traders were largely holding their breath for events on the ground, a slight rebound in Japanese shares on Friday was providing some temporary support for the greenback.

The dollar was at 101.71 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, compared with 101.66 yen in New York Thursday.

The euro was flat at US$1.3840 and firmed to 140.77 yen, compared with 140.69 yen.

Pro-Russian forces in Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine have said they are moving ahead with independence referendums, despite a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin to postpone the vote.

“There are risks of violence before and after the vote, if it happens. It's difficult to take dollar-long positions before the weekend,” said Yuji Saito, executive director of foreign exchange at Credit Agricole in Tokyo.

But recovery of the Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange for now was providing support for the U.S. unit, he added.

The euro also remained under pressure after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said the bank was prepared to further ease monetary conditions next month if the economy needed it.

The ECB's governing council was “dissatisfied” with the current path of inflation and was “not prepared to accept it as a fact of nature,” Draghi said.

As a result, the governing council “is comfortable with acting next time,” he said.

The dollar was mixed against other Asian currencies.

The dollar eased to SG$1.2480 from SG$1.2495 on Thursday, to 11,532.50 Indonesian rupiah from 11,618 rupiah, and to 43.74 Philippine pesos from 44.22 pesos.

The greenback rose to 32.56 Thai baht from 32.45 baht, to 1,023.45 South Korean won from 1,022.15 won.

The Australian dollar fell to 93.57 U.S. cents from 93.60 cents while the Chinese yuan eased to 16.33 yen from 16.34 yen.

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