Euro up in Asia after ECB meeting

The euro rose in Asian trade on Friday after European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi shrugged off concerns about the unit's surging value as the bank held off fresh policy action.

In Tokyo trade, the single currency strengthened to $1.3407 from $1.3395 in New York on Thursday, while it was flat against Japan's currency, edging up slightly to 125.42 yen. The dollar slipped to 93.49 yen from 93.61 yen.

After its closely watched policy meeting, the ECB on Thursday left rates unchanged, with Draghi offering a middling picture of the eurozone economy.

Analysts have said the bank may have to slash rates further if the 17-nation bloc's economy turns weaker this year.

The bank's chief also served up a differing view on the euro's rise after French officials warned over its value, including French President Francois Hollande, who called for possible market intervention to tame the unit.

His comments followed earlier warnings from other European officials, including outgoing Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker who said the euro's value was "dangerously high".

"The appreciation is in a sense a sign of return of confidence in the euro," Draghi told reporters on Thursday.

"By and large, both the nominal and real effective exchange rates are on... or about their long term averages... the exchange rate is not a policy target."

The Bank of England also held steady on monetary policy after its meeting Thursday.

The euro has soared in recent months on easing concerns about the eurozone's prospects and its debt crisis, but the unit's rise has stoked concerns about the stronger currency hurting eurozone exports.

Japan, meanwhile, has been criticised over claims it was engineering a devaluation of the yen, which has fallen steeply in the past few months.

But Tokyo has repeatedly rejected accusations it was manipulating the unit, and risking setting off a global currency war.

The dollar-yen rate initially strengthened in morning trade as Japanese importers upped their dollar purchases, dealers said.

The pair barely moved after official data Friday showed the surplus in Japan's current account, the broadest measure of trade with the rest of the world, nearly halved on-year to 4.7 trillion yen ($50 billion) in 2012, the lowest since 1985, as exports to Europe and China slumped.

Trade has also been turning on speculation over the new head of Japan's central bank, and their stance on the aggressive easing measures demanded by new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The yen tumbled sharply following Bank of Japan (BoJ) Governor Masaaki Shirakawa's announcement late on Tuesday that he planned to quit on March 19, about three weeks before the end of his term.