By Hiroyuki Kachi

The dollar was moderately weaker against the yen during Asian trade Wednesday, with steady gains in Tokyo stocks prompting selling of the haven Japanese currency.

Around 0450 GMT, the U.S. currency was changing hands at Y118.00, compared with Y117.74 late Tuesday in New York. The euro was unchanged at $1.0406 from late Tuesday after touching fresh 14-year low of $1.0340 overnight.

The WSJ Dollar Index, a measure of the U.S. dollar against a basket of major currencies, was up 0.02% at 93.58.

The greenback drew buying interest overnight given upbeat U.S. manufacturing index data from the Institute for Supply Management. Although the dollar buying cooled down after the data was released, improved sentiment following hefty gains in Tokyo stocks pushed the U.S. currency moderately higher above the Y118 threshold again later in the session.

Tokyo stocks kicked off with a positive tone sending the Nikkei Stock Average 2.3% midday on its track to gain after a three-session losing streak.

"As the new year kicked off with the dollar buying, I can expect this direction today or tomorrow," said Osao Iizuka, head of foreign-exchange trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

Investors continued to closely watch any comments from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he would hold a "general news conference" on Jan. 11, nine days before his inauguration. This would mark his first press conference since winning the November election. Last month, he postponed a scheduled news conference about his plans for handling the Trump Organization's operations during his presidency. Mr. Trump's spokesman said at the time that the delay was to allow his legal team ample time to work out the details.

"Any remarks that he doesn't desire a stronger dollar will help turn around" the currency's post-U.S.-election rally, Mr. Iizuka said Wednesday.

Mizuho Securities' chief forex strategist, Kengo Suzuki, said technical charts suggested the dollar was likely to either fall to Y115 or enter a Y116.50-Y118.50 trading range. "But there still remains a chance that the dollar will head toward Y120" if Dec. 15's high of Y118.66 is broken, Mr. Suzuki added.

Later in the global day, the U.S. Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its December policy-setting meeting, at which it raised the benchmark interest rate. After that meeting, the central bank signaled it might increase rates three times in 2017 instead of two as had been previously expected. Friday will bring the next monthly U.S. jobs report.

In other currency trade, the euro was at Y122.79 from Y122.53 late Tuesday.

Interbank Foreign Exchange Rates At 23:50 EST / 0450 GMT

Latest Previous %Chg Daily Daily %Chg

Dollar Rates Close High Low 12/31

USD/JPY Japan 118.00-01 117.74-75 +0.21 118.19 117.54 +0.85

EUR/USD Euro 1.0405-08 1.0404-07 +0.01 1.0426 1.0390 -1.07

GBP/USD U.K. 1.2240-42 1.2236-38 +0.03 1.2248 1.2221 -0.84

USD/CHF Switzerland 1.0276-80 1.0273-77 +0.03 1.0292 1.0256 +0.87

USD/CAD Canada 1.3445-50 1.3424-29 +0.16 1.3460 1.3419 +0.04

AUD/USD Australia 0.7236-40 0.7218-22 +0.25 0.7242 0.7212 +0.50

NZD/USD New Zealand 0.6907-13 0.6913-19 -0.09 0.6927 0.6890 -0.22

Euro Rate

EUR/JPY Japan 122.77-81 122.49-53 +0.23 122.86 122.41 -0.25

Source: Tullett Prebon

Write to Hiroyuki Kachi at Hiroyuki.Kachi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 04, 2017 01:12 ET (06:12 GMT)

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