Dollar firms in Asia on upbeat manufacturing data

The dollar firmed against the yen and euro in Asia Wednesday, boosted by solid US economic data and a bleak outlook for the troubled eurozone as the Bank of Japan starts a two-day policy meeting.

In Tokyo afternoon trade the dollar bought 93.55 yen, up from 93.39 yen in New York on Tuesday.

The euro rose to 119.76 yen from 119.70 yen while it weakened to $1.2803 from $1.2813.

Supporting the dollar was a US Commerce Department report that showed new orders for manufactured goods rose 3.0 percent in February, topping expectations.

By contrast, a weak eurozone manufacturing report showed further contraction in the sector, adding to concerns about the bloc amid fears about bailed-out Cyprus and a political impasse in Italy.

The 17-nation eurozone's unemployment hit a record 12 percent in February, official data showed Tuesday, with more than 19 million people on the dole.

However, Cyprus has been given two more years, until 2018, to meet the conditions of a 10 billion-euro bailout under a final agreement with eurozone lenders, giving the island nation a bit more breathing room.

The yen's weakening came as analysts have tipped the Bank of Japan (BoJ) to launch aggressive policy measures at its first meeting under new governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who vowed Tuesday he would announce "bold" monetary easing.

The BoJ's two-day meeting, which starts Wednesday, follows a central bank survey Monday that showed a modest uptick in confidence among large Japanese manufacturers, although it came in below expectations.

"As long as Kuroda keeps expectations for further easing intact, the yen's weakening trend will continue," Hideyuki Ishiguro, a senior strategist at Okasan Securities' investment strategy department, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The dollar was mostly stronger against other Asia-Pacific currencies Wednesday, firming to 1,118.73 South Korean won from 1,117.06 won on Tuesday, to 29.41 Thai baht from 29.36 baht, to 54.36 Indian rupees from 54.34 rupees, to 40.91 Philippine pesos from 40.85 pesos, and to Sg$1.2393 from Sg$1.2377.

The greenback also firmed to Sg$1.2393 from Sg$1.2377, and to Tw$29.87 from Tw$29.85, while it was flat at 9,742 Indonesian rupiah.

The Australian dollar fell to $1.0451 from $1.0459 while the Chinese yuan fetched 15.05 yen against 14.96 yen.