Dollar little changed vs. rivals ahead of U.S. data

Chicago (Mar 14)  The dollar was little changed against the other major currencies on Friday, as markets awaited the release of U.S. economic reports later in the trading session, although concerns over tensions in Ukraine and the outlook for growth in China continued to weigh.

The dollar was lower against the euro, with EUR/USD up 0.17% to 1.3891.

Investors remained cautious after Russia launched new military exercises near its border with Ukraine on Thursday, showing no sign of backing down on plans to annex Crimea.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said serious steps would be imposed by the U.S. and Europe if the referendum on Crimea joining Russia takes place on Sunday as planned.

Markets were also jittery after data on Thursday showed that Chinese industrial production rose 8.6% in the first two months of 2014, missing market expectations for an increase of 9.5%, while Chinese retail sales rose by a smaller-than-forecast 11.8% in the same period.

The pound was steady against the dollar, with GBP/USD dipping 0.02% to 1.6621.

Earlier in the day, official data showed that the U.K. trade deficit widened to £9.79 billion in January, from £7.66 billion in December, whose figure was revised up from a previously estimated deficit of £7.7 billion.

Analysts had expected the trade deficit to widen to £8.60 billion in February.

The dollar was lower against the yen, with USD/JPY down 0.18% to 101.61 and little changed against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF easing 0.03% to 0.8742.

In Switzerland, official data showed that producer price inflation fell 0.4% last month, compared to expectations for a 0.1% downtick, after a flat reading in January.

The greenback was steady against the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars, with AUD/USD inching 0.03% higher to 0.9034, NZD/USD up 0.02% to 0.8543 and USD/CAD adding 0.06% to 1.1080.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.08% to 79.66.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release data on producer price inflation and preliminary data from the University of Michigan on consumer sentiment.