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US dollar holds steady in Asian trade despite figures from Japan and China

TOKYO--The dollar held steady in Asia Thursday with currency markets little moved by weak Japanese trade data and upbeat manufacturing figures out of China.

In late afternoon Tokyo trade, the dollar fetched 101.47 yen, against 101.48 yen in New York late Wednesday.

The euro bought US$1.3455 and 136.55 yen, against US$1.3462 and 136.62 yen.

The yen tends to gain ground in times of uncertainty and turmoil, but markets moved little after fresh Japanese data showed the country's trade deficit ballooned to a record in the first half of the year.

The figures were likely to ramp up pressure on the Bank of Japan for fresh easing measures, which tend to weaken the yen.

The British pound dipped to US$1.7032 from US$1.7040 in New York late Wednesday.

The decline came despite Bank of England (BOE) governor Mark Carney telling a conference that the central bank needs to start raising interest rates in the coming months, even as he emphasized there is no “preset course” for doing so.

“The UK economy has been growing rapidly,” Carney said. “As the economy normalizes, (the) bank rate will need to start to rise in order to achieve the inflation target.”

Carney's remarks came as minutes of a July monetary policy meeting showed that BOE members unanimously agreed to keep the key interest rate at an all-time low of 0.50 percent.

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It firmed to 11,542 Indonesian rupiah from 11,505 rupiah on Wednesday, to 43.32 Philippine pesos from 43.29 pesos, to 1,028.78 South Korean won from 1,024.20 won, and to 31.83 Thai baht from 31.75 baht.

It weakened to SG$1.2384 from SG$1.2392 and to 60.02 Indian rupees from 60.19 rupees.

The Australian dollar edged up to 94.42 U.S. cents from 94.40 cents, while the Chinese yuan was higher at 16.39 yen against 16.34 yen.

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