Euro eases in Asian trading

The euro eased slightly in Asia on Thursday as a downgrade of Greek debt and poor eurozone data weighed on sentiment, while the yen continued to be sold on speculation of more central bank easing.

In afternoon Tokyo trade, the single currency bought $1.3055, from $1.3064 in New York late Wednesday, while it fetched 107.69 yen from 107.71 yen.

The dollar traded at 82.48 yen, from 82.42 yen.

Standard & Poor's on Wednesday cut Greece's already junk-level debt rating to "selective default" after the country launched an operation to buy back debt at a big discount as part of a rearranged bailout plan.

Economic reports also showed private-sector business activity in the eurozone declined in November, while consumers cut their spending in stores for the third straight month in October.

Traders are keeping a close eye on a European Central Bank policy board meeting later Thursday, with expectations it will lower its growth forecasts for the eurozone, though it is not expected to take any action on rates.

Markets are pricing in further Bank of Japan easing as the country goes to the polls on December 16 with main opposition leader Shinzo Abe, widely tipped to become the next prime minister, vowing to push for more aggressive easing.

The dollar won support from the ISM services index for November, which showed a slight pickup in the vast sector's growth, after its manufacturing index released this week showed a monthly contraction.

Greenback trading was also following the US fiscal cliff budget showdown, with lawmakers gridlocked in talks aimed at replacing the package of tax hikes and spending cuts that take effect on January 1 and will likely tip lead to recession.

Despite the uncertainty over the US economy, National Australia Bank said in a note that it expects the dollar to notch up further gains against the yen.

"We continue to target a move up to at least 85 yen by the end of December," it said.

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It rose to 1,082.63 South Korean won from 1,081.82 won on Wednesday, to 40.92 Philippine pesos from 40.86 pesos and to Sg$1.2197 from Sg$1.2183.

The greenback slipped to 54.52 Indian rupees from 54.61 rupees and to 9,634 Indonesia rupiah from 9,639 rupiah while holding steady at Tw$29.07 and 30.68 Thai baht.

The Australian dollar fell to US$1.0461 from US$1.0475 while China's yuan edged up to 13.22 yen from 13.18 yen.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

--

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