By Hiroyuki Kachi
The dollar was moderately higher against the yen and the euro in quiet Asia trade Friday, with many investors avoiding taking strong positions ahead of Japan's "Golden Week" holidays next week.
Around 0450 GMT, the dollar was at Y119.65, compared with Y119.38 late Thursday in New York. The euro was at $1.1210 from $1.1223.
The dollar gained a little bit of traction, rising to around Y119.70 midday on a mixture of buying and selling by Japanese corporate investors ahead of the holiday season.
Sentiment was not bruised even after the Nikkei Stock Average extended its earlier losses, with the greenback maintaining earlier gains. The benchmark Nikkei index was 0.5% lower midday.
"Investors don't want to take lopsided positions ahead of the long weekend," thus limiting the dollar's upside against the yen, said Daisaku Ueno, chief FX strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley. But the downside is also well supported because of orders for dollar buying orders densely placed from so called real money such as corporate investors.
"The dollar looks to set to find a solid support once it falls below Y119, but it is top heavy when it comes close to Y120," said Mr. Ueno.
Amid increased uncertainty over the timeframe for the Federal Reserve to raise short-term rates, the dollar may gain traction if April ISM manufacturing index scheduled later Friday signals a U.S. economic recovery for the second quarter, market participants said.
But Mr. Ueno said the dollar's downside still remains solid as "there are a slew of investors lining up to buy (the dollar on dips) in need, regardless of U.S. economic indicators," adding that some of them were supposed to leave buy orders during holidays in Japan.
Market participants showed a muted reaction to Japan's consumer price data earlier the day, which showed inflation in Japan rose for the first time in almost a year in March with a 0.2% on-year gain but remains far below the Bank of Japan's 2% target.
The central bank Thursday left its monetary policy unchanged, sticking to the view that it has done enough to generate stable inflation.
Among other currency pairs, the euro was at Y134.12 from Y133.98.
The WSJ Dollar Index, a measure of the dollar against a basket of major currencies, was up 0.12% at 85.36.
Interbank Foreign Exchange Rates At 00:50 EST / 0450 GMT
Latest Previous %Chg Daily Daily %Chg
Dollar Rates Close High Low 12/31
USD/JPY Japan 119.64-65 119.37-38 +0.22 119.75 119.37 -0.07
EUR/USD Euro 1.1208-11 1.1221-24 -0.12 1.1227 1.1204 -7.35
GBP/USD U.K. 1.5347-52 1.5350-55 -0.02 1.5362 1.5338 -1.47
USD/CHF Switzerland 0.9329-33 0.9321-25 +0.09 0.9346 0.9321 -6.16
USD/CAD Canada 1.2085-90 1.2072-77 +0.12 1.2103 1.2065 +4.02
AUD/USD Australia 0.7888-92 0.7904-08 -0.20 0.7919 0.7873 -3.44
NZD/USD New Zealand 0.7586-92 0.7614-20 -0.37 0.7628 0.7569 -2.64
EUR/JPY Japan 134.09-13 134.00-04 +0.07 134.23 133.90 -7.47
Source: ICAP PLC
Write to Hiroyuki Kachi at Hiroyuki.Kachi@wsj.com