The US dollar was lower in early European dealings yesterday against leading currencies, as most players remained sidelined ahead of two key readings on the US economy. Analysts said the dollar eased in range-bound activity as trading dried up before the release of the US retail sales and producer price index reports for last month. The dollar firmed against the yen on comments from Japanese Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, who said 'fiscal support for the economy was unlikely'. This heightened expectations that official interest rates will be left on hold for the foreseeable future. Earlier in Tokyo, the dollar was higher against the yen in late trade as stop-loss buying emerged after the dollar moved above 120 yen, dealers said. The dollar was quoted at 120.47 yen, from 119.72 earlier and 119.57 in New York late on Thursday. Against the deutschemark, the dollar was quoted at 1.7816 marks, compared with 1.7795 earlier and also in New York late on Thursday. 'When the dollar started going above 120 yen, stop-loss buying was triggered,' a Tokai Bank dealer said. The dollar climbed to as high as 120.67 yen at which point the buying slowed, dealers said. 'The market expected the dollar's upside to remain heavy due to the sustained trade balance problem between the United States and Japan,' one said. The mark rose against the yen on the emerging view that interest rates in Germany might be raised in the near future, given the buoyancy of the German economy, dealers said. 'There is no active buying of the dollar in dollar-yen trading alone ahead of the G7 [Group of Seven leading industrialised nations] meeting and the long weekend [in Japan],' a credit bank dealer said. In Europe, the dollar began the day lower in Frankfurt at 1.7814 marks, from 1.7912 on Thursday. The dollar began in Zurich at 1.474 Swiss francs, from 1.4762 previously, and started trading in Paris at 5.9853 French francs, from 6.022. In Brussels, it opened weaker at 36.76 Belgian francs, from 36.97, and in Rome, it began at 1,740.9 Italian lire, from 1,748.8 lire. In London, the pound was stronger at US$1.6032, compared with $1.588 on Thursday.