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Dollar inches down ahead of Fed chief speech

TOKYO -- The dollar inched down in Asia Friday as investors awaited a speech by the U.S. Federal Reserve chief for any hint at when the bank will start raising interest rates.

The U.S. unit was changing hands at 103.71 yen in Tokyo afternoon, compared with 103.85 yen in New York Thursday afternoon.

The euro was mixed, buying US$1.3287 and 137.81 yen against US$1.3280 and 137.91 yen in U.S. trade.

“It is likely to remain very, very quiet today, ahead of Fed Chair's speech,” National Australia Bank (NAB) said in a note.

All eyes were on he Fed's annual monetary policy meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the heads of the U.S. and eurozone central banks will speak.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen is schedule to speak first, at 1400 GMT Friday, followed by Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, at 1830 GMT.

“This forum has been known to signal the Fed's intentions and at the very least guide market direction with regards to policy. So there is often a lot of anticipation,” the Australian bank said.

The dollar has risen over the past week as solid data and Fed minutes fuelled speculation that the Fed may start raising its key interest rates sooner than expected.

Unless Yellen is supportive of the latest improvements in the labor market, “there is likely to be some USD disappointment,” NAB said.

The dollar fell against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It slipped to SG$1.2478 from SG$1.2519 on Thursday, to 31.89 Thai baht from 32.06 baht and to 11,655.00 Indonesian rupiah from 11,724.50 rupiah.

The greenback also dropped to 1,017.35 South Korean won from 1,023.90 won, to 43.79 Philippine pesos from 43.82 pesos, and to 60.42 Indian rupees from 60.63 rupees.

The Australian dollar rose to 93.23 U.S. cents from 92.53 cents, while the Chinese yuan fell to 16.81 yen from 16.88 yen.

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