LONDON (AFP) - The euro was firmer against the dollar Friday, still supported by hardline comments from the head of the European Central Bank on the inflation risk, dealers said. The dollar nonetheless did get some help from figures showing a sharp improvement in the chronic US trade deficit, which narrowed to 58.2 billion dollars in March from 61.7 billion dollars in February, beating forecasts. Dealers said that remarks by ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet on Thursday that "inflation rates are expected to remain high for a rather protracted period of time" suggested eurozone lending costs will stay high. That gave the euro a boost against the dollar since the US Federal Reserve has slashed its key rate in recent months in order to keep the economy on track as it struggles with the fallout from the US subprime home loan crisis. However, dealers said the ECB will eventually have to face the fact that the eurozone economy is slowing, arguing that a cut in eurozone rates has to come sometime later this year. Trichet's "fixation may be on the fact that inflation is above target but we suspect that the data on activity will continue to deteriorate and ultimately turn intransigence into capitulation with a rate cut in September," said Calyon analyst Daragh Maher. In late European trade, the euro was at 1.5451 dollars, down from 1.5474 dollars earlier in the day but up from 1.5393 in New York late on Thursday. The dollar fell to 102.98 yen from 103.68. "It's natural for the dollar to take a break" after its recent rebound, said Yosuke Hosokawa, head of foreign exchange trading at Chuo Mitsui Trust Bank. In London on Friday, the euro changed hands at 1.5451 dollars against 1.5393 late on Thursday, at 159.15 yen (159.62), 0.7929 pounds (0.7875) and 1.6120 Swiss francs (1.6182). The dollar stood at 102.98 yen (103.68) and 1.0429 Swiss francs (1.0512). The pound was at 1.9482 dollars (1.9453). On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold fell to 876 dollars per ounce from 877 dollars late on Thursday.