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May 28, 2017

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Greenback steady after Russia calls for an end to Ukraine crisis

TOKYO -- The dollar held steady in Asia Friday on easing concerns over the situation in Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an end to the crisis in the violence-wracked country.

In Tokyo afternoon trading, the greenback fetched 102.53 yen, up from 102.45 yen in New York.

The euro bought US$1.3363 and 137.07 yen, mixed from US$1.3365 and 136.93 yen in U.S. trade, after the release Thursday of weak eurozone economic data.

Growth in the 18-country eurozone ground to a halt in the second quarter, dragged down by France and Germany and casting a cloud over the crisis-hit region.

On Friday, investors moved into the dollar, which tends to decline against the yen during times of turmoil, as Putin said Moscow should not "fence itself off from the outside world" despite a plunge in East-West relations over the pro-Kremlin insurgency in Ukraine.

In Iraq, the country's divisive premier Nuri al-Maliki dropped his bid to stay in power, bowing to huge domestic and international pressure as a jihadist-led offensive threatens to tear the country apart.

His decision was swiftly welcomed by the U.S. and the U.N.

But Junya Tanase, chief forex strategist at JPMorgan in Tokyo, said more negative headlines could reignite geopolitical jitters among investors, which would tend to drag the dollar down.

The dollar was mostly lower against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It fell to SG$1.2442 from SG$1.2480 the previous day, to 11,671.00 Indonesian rupiah from 11,677.50 rupiah, to 60.77 Indian rupees from 61.05 rupees, and to 1,017.64 South Korean won from 1,023.09 won.

It also eased to 43.67 Philippine pesos from 43.74 pesos while inching up to 31.89 Thai baht from 31.86 baht.

The Australian dollar climbed to 93.25 U.S. cents from 92.56 cents, while the Chinese yuan was unchanged at 16.64 yen.

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