USD sluggish before Yellen testimony


TOKYO–The dollar was stuck in a tight range on Thursday as investors sit on the sidelines before the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve gives testimony to senators later in the day. The greenback was quoted at 102.38 yen in Tokyo, unchanged from New York late Wednesday, while the euro was at US$1.3686 and 140.10 yen from US$1.3683 and 140.11 yen. Janet Yellen’s comments to the Senate Banking Committee later Thursday will be pored over for clues about the bank’s view on the U.S. economy and its plans for its stimulus program.

While she is unlikely to deviate from her testimony to the House of Representatives’ committee two weeks ago analysts will be interested to hear whether the bank expects the recent severe cold weather that paralyzed parts of the country recently has affected growth prospects. A recent spate of downbeat data out of the United States in recent months, including jobs growth, have been blamed on the weather. Minutes released last week from the Fed’s policy committee meeting on Jan. 28-29 showed a generally upbeat mood, shrugging off turmoil in emerging markets and judging that poor December employment numbers were mainly weather-related. Policymakers agreed for the second time in two months to proceed with cutting its massive bond-buying program, which it has used to hold interest rates low to stimulate investment and jobs growth. The dollar was higher against other Asia-Pacific currencies. It rose to SG$1.2664 Thursday afternoon from SG$1.2644 Wednesday, to 11,662 Indonesian rupiah from 11,637 rupiah and to 32.58 Thai baht from 32.56 baht. It also firmed to 61.99 Indian rupees from 61.97 rupees, and to 44.66 Philippine pesos from 44.60 pesos while slipping to 1,066.21 South Korean won from 1,066.66 won. The Australian dollar fell to 89.40 U.S. cents from 90.05 cents and the Chinese yuan bought 16.69 yen against 16.70 yen.