May 05, 2014, 05:53:00 PM

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The dollar was little-changed against major rivals Monday as investors continued to comb through economic data and speeches from central-bank officials to get a better sense of when the Federal Reserve could begin to raise interest rates.

The dollar (USDJPY) inched down to Yen102.13 from Yen102.22 late Friday. Japanese markets were closed Monday.

The U.S. service sector and non-manufacturing companies saw a pick up in growth last month, with the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index rising to its highest reading in six months.

The U.S. economy in April created the most jobs in more than two years, providing more evidence of a recovery in the labor market, according to Friday’s jobs report. Still, analysts say that for the dollar to break out of its recent ranges against rivals, the data need to be strong enough to force the Federal Reserve to reduce its monthly bond purchases more quickly or change its views on when the first rate hike could come. The Fed has maintained that it can keep interest rates low for a “considerable time” after the end of its bond-buying program.

Read:What’s really behind the jobs numbers

“Most of the clients I meet are not as sanguine as the Fed that easy money can continue for as long as the Fed is saying it can,” said Steven Englander, head of G10 foreign-exchange strategy at Citi. “They haven’t had any concrete evidence to put against the Fed’s viewpoint and in the absence of concrete evidence, the Fed wins,” he said.

The ICE dollar index (DXY), which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, was little changed at 79.505 from 79.510 late Friday. The WSJ Dollar Index , an alternate gauge of dollar strength, was at 72.81 versus 72.84.

Violence in Ukraine continued over the weekend and heavy fighting broke out Monday in Slovyansk, which is held by pro- Russian separatists.

Foreign-exchange trading has been quiet of late as investors await data or a central-bank decision that could change views in the market, such as the timing of the first rate hike in the U.S. or U.K. and further easing from the European Central Bank. “The low volatility is partly a function of the well-understood investment climate,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.

The period of low volatility has sent investors into higher-yielding emerging-market currencies, regardless of fundamentals. “Low volatility is telling you that there’s little risk to buying a higher yielding currency,” said Englander of Citi. “You don’t have to like Brazil to like its coupon,” he said.

The dollar (USDBRL) rose 1.1% against the Brazilian real on Monday.

The euro (EURUSD) was at $1.3876 versus $1.3872 late Friday. Eurozone producer prices fell 0.2% in March from February.

The European Central Bank on Thursday could make a token gesture at this week’s meeting, such as cutting its lending rate or refi rate, or stopping its sterilization of bond purchases, said Chandler. That type of gesture isn’t likely to prompt a lasting reaction in the exchange rate, he said.

Manufacturing data from China weighed on Asian markets. HSBC’s final version of its April purchasing managers index for China fell to 48.1 from its initial reading of 48.3, with both readings showing a contraction in activity.

The British pound (GBPUSD) was essentially unchanged at $1.6870 versus $1.6871 late Friday. London markets were closed Monday. The Australian dollar (AUDUSD) was at 92.75 U.S. cents versus 92.67 U.S. cents.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is scheduled to Tuesday and Bank of England will issue a decision Thursday.

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