Major currencies steady as Ukraine tensions rise

NEW YORK (AFP) - The euro edged higher on Friday, but leading currencies changed little overall as markets were on edge over tensions in Ukraine.

The United States and European powers are in a major standoff with Moscow over its support for Crimean lawmakers decision to put to a vote a referendum to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Meanwhile, an improvement in US job creation in February reassured analysts that the American economy is on track, but the impact was insufficient to drive a dollar rebound.

At 2200 GMT, the euro stood at $1.3874, slightly up from $1.3859 late Thursday.

The euro also picked up to 143.31 yen from 142.85, while the dollar was at 103,24 yen, compared to 103.07 yen.

The British pound slipped to $1.6711 from $1.6738, while the dollar fell to 0.8777 Swiss franc from 0.8801 franc.

The European Central Bank's unexpected bullishness Thursday supported the euro, while the tentativeness of the Bank of England's confidence even as it held policy unchanged put a limit on the pound's gain.

The US jobs report endorsed the view that the Federal Reserve will continue cutting its stimulus back slowly, but not move any faster than currently forecast to raise interest rates, expected in 2015.

"We maintain a gradual upward bias on the US dollar as the rebound in US payrolls supports expectations of continued tapering by the Fed," said Wells Fargo Securities.

David Song of DailyFX was bullish on the pound.

"The British pound may continue to coil up for a move higher as the Bank of England moves away from its easing cycle," Mr Song said.

"Indeed, the Monetary Policy Committee refrained from releasing a policy statement after retaining its current policy in March, but it seems as though the central bank will do little to halt the appreciation in the sterling."

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