Dollar jumps in Asia on hopes for US jobs

The dollar rose to a three-and-a-half-year high against the yen in Asia Friday as dealers grew confident of encouraging results from key US jobs data due later in the global day.

The greenback climbed to 95.42 yen in Tokyo -- its strongest since August 2009 -- from 94.83 yen in New York late Thursday, while the euro dipped to $1.3095 in Tokyo morning trade against $1.3107.

The single currency was also buying 124.92 yen, compared with 124.28 yen.

A senior dealer at a major European bank said the focus was on US payroll and jobless figures due later.

"Strong readings will push (the dollar) higher," he said.

The US government said Thursday that new claims for US unemployment benefits fell last week to 340,000, boosting confidence that Friday's much-watched US jobless data would be strong, analysts say.

That came a day after data from payrolls firm ADP showed the private sector piled on 198,000 jobs last month, better than the average of the past six months.

The weakening of the yen was also due to investors moving out of the unit, considered a safe haven in times of uncertainty, as they grow more confident in the global economic outlook, a senior dealer said.

"There are many who want to sell the yen amid this risk-on environment," the dealer told Dow Jones Newswires.

Traders are also selling the unit in anticipation of more aggressive monetary easing from the Bank of Japan, which will likely be headed at its next rate-setting meeting in April by Haruhiko Kuroda, an advocate of such policies.

The central bank left its policy unchanged on Thursday, the last meeting for current governor Masaaki Shirakawa.

Kuroda, a finance veteran, has in the past criticised the BoJ for not doing enough to boost the world's number three economy and is a supporter of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plan of ratcheting up spending to drive growth.

The euro extended its gains seen in New York on Thursday after the European Central Bank decided not to cut interest rates.

The ECB left interest rates unchanged at a record low 0.75 percent, although its head Mario Draghi said the board had considered a cut.

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It firmed to 1,092.00 South Korean won from 1,086.58 won a day earlier, to 9,695 Indonesian rupiah from 9,693 rupiah and to 29.78 Thai baht from 29.75.

It fell to 54.45 Indian rupees from 54.77 rupees, to Tw$29.64 from Tw$29.67, to 40.72 Philippine pesos from 40.75 pesos and to Sg$1.2467 from Sg$1.2481.

The Australian dollar slipped to $1.0243 from $1.0250 while the Chinese yuan strengthened to 15.28 yen from 15.06 yen.