Dollar firms on Fed official's September easing hint

The dollar gained ground on Friday after a senior Federal Reserve official pointed to September as the date the central bank could begin winding down its massive asset purchases.

The euro fell to $1.3013 around 2100 GMT, down from $1.3038 late Thursday.

The greenback also firmed against the Japanese currency, to 99.11 yen from 98.35 yen Thursday, while the euro rose to 128.99 yen from 128.23 yen.

Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management said the dollar was boosted by comments from Jeremy Stein, a member of the Fed board of governors and the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Stein suggested in a speech in New York that the central bank could make a decision to begin slowing its stimulus program within three months.

Stein specifically cited September in an example explaining that accumulated economic data for the past year, and not just the most recent data, would determine whether the FOMC decides to taper the bond purchases.

That "really got investors excited," she said.

"This specific comment about September sparked speculation that this will be the month when the Fed starts tapering," she said.

The dollar is expected to benefit when the Fed eventually begins to taper the buying, which it has conditioned on continued improvement in the economy.

The dollar slipped a bit against the Swiss currency, to 0.9446 franc from 0.9450 franc.

But it rose against the pound, which bought $1.5202, down from $1.5257 late Thursday.