Dollar weak in Asia after losses, eyes on China data

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Hong Kong (AFP)

The dollar struggled to recover from its recent sell-off as investors fret over Donald Trump's lack of clarity on economic policy, while investors are also awaiting the release of Chinese trade data later in the day.

After a global rally fuelled by hopes Trump's election victory would see a boost to the US economy, trading floors are turning more quiet with talk that the surge may have been overdone.

Among the main losers in the recent pull-back is the dollar, which soared on expectations the real estate tycoon's plans for big spending and tax cuts would fan inflation and force the Federal Reserve to lift interest rates.

The dollar just last week was hovering around 118.60 yen but on Thursday dropped below 114 yen briefly before recovering. The greenback was also down against its other major peers.

“This is really a pause that we were looking to get even a month ago,” Philip Guarco, global head of fixed-income strategy at JPMorgan Private Bank in New York, told Bloomberg TV.

"Rates had moved too far, too fast so we had this sort of reflation exuberance. I think we consolidate here and just wait to see what’s going to happen in terms of execution."

However Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said he expected "the market to reload (dollar) long positions ahead Trump's inauguration and State of the Union (next Friday) where once again traders will brace for confirmation on the fiscal spend."

Equity traders were given a weak lead from Wall Street, where the Dow's drive for the 20,000-point mark has stalled.

Tokyo's Nikkei ended the morning session 0.5 higher after losing more than one percent Thursday but Sydney lost 0.9 percent and Seoul 0.3 percent. Singapore added 0.8 percent but Wellington and Taipei were lower.

Hong Kong added 0.5 percent but Shanghai gave back 0.2 percent as traders hold out for the Chinese trade data hoping for another sign of stabilisation in the world's number two economy.

This week the country's top economic planner Xu Shaoshi said he expected the economy to have grown about 6.7 percent in 2016, matching forecasts and government targets but marking the worst result in more than a quarter of a century.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 19,233.89 (break)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,114.02

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 22,933.44

Dollar/yen: UP at 114.85 yen from 114.75 yen

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0616 from $1.0614

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2172 from $1.2163

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN two cents at $52.99 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP one cent at $56.02

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 19,891.00 (close)

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,292.37 (close)