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May 26, 2017

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Dollar, euro lose ground against yen as nervous investors await Greek poll

TOKYO--The dollar and euro weakened against the yen in Asian trade on Friday amid growing fears over weekend elections in Greece that are widely seen as a referendum on its future in the embattled eurozone.

The greenback was changing hands at 78.82 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade from 79.34 yen in New York late Thursday, while the euro bought US$1.2636 and 99.58 yen, from US$1.2630 and 100.21 yen in U.S. trade.

The dollar added to its overnight losses against the yen after the Bank of Japan on Friday kept interest rates unchanged at zero to 0.1 percent, while holding firm on a 70.0 trillion yen (US$885 billion) asset-purchase program.

The yen, which hit record highs against the dollar last year, has strengthened again in recent weeks as traders increasingly view it a safe-haven currency amid turmoil in Europe and a lumbering U.S. economic recovery.

"(But) ahead of Greece's election, there is no sense of direction in the currency market," Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Barclays Capital, said in a note to clients.

Traders were also watching key U.S. economic data due later Friday, but "the sensitivity of the market to these events will be lower" than usual because of the Greek polls, he added.

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