TOKYO- The dollar was flat in Asia on Thursday as investors await the release of key Chinese economic indicators, while the euro held up against the greenback after surging in New York on upbeat eurozone data.
In midday Tokyo trade, the greenback bought 102.73 yen, from 102.75 yen in New York on Wednesday.
“Technically, 102.50 yen is an important point,” said Osao Iizuka, head of forex trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust and Banking.
“If that support is breached by any negative news from China, the pair may fall below the 102 yen mark ,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.
The euro bought $1.3906, compared with $1.3905 in New York, where it at one point touched $1.3915 — a 17-month high. The single currency also fetched 142.81 yen from 142.85 yen in US trade.
Dealers welcomed figures showing industrial output in the 18-nation eurozone fell 0.2 percent in January, following a sharper drop of 0.4 percent in December when it had 17 members. However, the underlying trend appears consistent with a very modest economic recovery in the bloc.
Compared with January 2013, output increased 2.1 percent.
Eyes are on the release in Beijing later in the day of crucial Chinese data after weaker-than-expected trade numbers at the weekend fueled fresh concerns about the strength of the world’s number-two economy.
The figures sent global markets tumbling and the yen, which is considered a safe investment in times of uncertainty, higher.
The yen was also supported Thursday by figures showing Japanese core machinery orders jumped 13.4 percent in January from the previous month, reversing a fall in December.
Machinery orders are watched closely as an indicator of corporate capital investment. The upbeat numbers suggest firms may boost investment in future, despite a sales tax rise in April some fear will stunt a nascent economic recovery.
Investors have been eying safer assets like the yen on the back of uncertainty over the Ukraine crisis.
The East-West split re-opened by the widened Wednesday when President Barack Obama threw Washington’s weight firmly behind Kiev in its stand-off with Moscow, following the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader.
Breakaway leaders on Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, backed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, plan to hold a referendum on Sunday to split from Kiev and come under Moscow’s wing.