By Hiroyuki Kachi

The U.S. dollar was almost flat in early afternoon Asia trade on Tuesday, with investors sitting on the sidelines just hours ahead of the U.S. presidential election.

Around 0450 GMT, the greenback was at Y104.45, compared with Y104.46 late Monday in New York. The U.S. currency remained trapped in a tight range between Y104.29 and Y104.59 throughout the session, with many reluctant to take positions ahead of the election results scheduled to come out Wednesday morning during Asia time. The euro was changing hands at $1.1040 in a rangebound trade, compared with $1.1044 late Monday.

The WSJ Dollar Index, a measure of the U.S. dollar against a basket of major currencies, was up 0.04% at 88.02.

"It all depends on the [election] results," said Yuzo Sakai, manager of FX business promotion at Tokyo Forex & Ueda Harlow. "From early in the morning to lunch time [tomorrow], investors will have no choice but to get nervous. They will fret over results from each state," said Mr. Sakai. "I don't think there are investors venturing to make moves today," he said.

Many are more confident that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will win, which is expected to be less disruptive for markets and therefore more supportive of a U.S. interest-rate increase in December. But investors still can't lower their guard on a Donald Trump victory.

The dollar may test its upside to briefly touch Y108, if Mrs. Clinton wins, said Daisaku Ueno, chief FX strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley in a note.

The dollar is set to gain traction, with investors pricing in the Federal Reserve's short-term rates increase as earlyas in December. But the rally may be only shortlived, as the Fed's action would be a reminder of a quick turnaround into a risk off mood in the form of global stocks selloff and oil price tumble shortly after the central bank's tightening just a year ago, he said.

"If expectations for yet another U.S. rate hike linger until April-June period," technical charts and demand for the dollar will likely lay groundwork for the dollar's uptrend, he said.

Following weaker than expected China trade data, the Australian dollar, linked closely to the world's second biggest economy, weakened to intraday lows of $0.7688 and Y80.26, respectively from $0.7718 and Y80.65. But the decline was only moderate, with many taking a wait-and-see stance.

China's exports continued to fall in dollar terms in October from a year earlier, falling 7.3% from a year earlier. It was worse than a median forecast for a 5.7% decline by 14 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

The Mexican peso, which has been highly sensitive to developments in the presidential race, stretched earlier gains at 18.57 a dollar midday, compared with 18.64 late Monday.

In other currency trade, the euro was lower at Y115.28 midday from Y115.43.

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 104.44-45 104.46-47 -0.02 104.57 104.30 -13.18

EUR/USD Euro 1.1040-43 1.1038-41 +0.02 1.1052 1.1030 +1.67

GBP/USD U.K. 1.2388-90 1.2396-98 -0.06 1.2405 1.2387 -15.93

USD/CHF Switzerland 0.9746-50 0.9742-46 +0.04 0.9754 0.9740 -2.71

USD/CAD Canada 1.3382-87 1.3361-66 +0.16 1.3393 1.3364 -3.28

AUD/USD Australia 0.7699-703 0.7726-30 -0.35 0.7737 0.7689 +5.68

NZD/USD New Zealand 0.7326-32 0.7342-48 -0.22 0.7348 0.7318 +7.26

Euro Rate

EUR/JPY Japan 115.28-32 115.32-36 -0.03 115.51 115.11 -11.84

Source: Tullett Prebon

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 08, 2016 00:33 ET (05:33 GMT)

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