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June 29, 2017

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Yen under pressure in Asian trade, investors catch whiff of CB easing

TOKYO--The yen was under pressure in Asia on Tuesday as the euro and dollar touched multi-month highs against the Japanese currency after poor trade data stoked speculation of more central bank easing.

In early Tokyo trade, the dollar briefly climbed above 80 yen for the first time since July before settling back at 79.91 yen in afternoon trade, slightly weaker than 79.95 in New York trade late Monday.

The euro, meanwhile, touched its highest levels on the yen since May, hitting 104.44 yen in early trading before dipping back to 104.24 yen later Tuesday, compared with 104.43 yen in New York.

The euro edged lower against the dollar, buying US$1.3045 from US$1.3060.

The yen, which has been viewed as a safe-haven unit amid turmoil in the US and Europe, lost ground after Tokyo released disappointing data that spurred speculation the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will take further measures to jumpstart the economy.

On Monday, Japan posted its worst September trade figures in more than 30 years, as the global slowdown and a territorial spat with China weighed on its export-oriented economy.

Adding to concerns about the economy, the BOJ issued a downbeat quarterly report on Monday that pointed to slowing growth.

On Tuesday, the country's economy minister declined comment on a local media report that said Tokyo has asked the BOJ to boost its 80 trillion yen asset-purchase program — its main policy tool — by about 25 percent.

Markets will also be eyeing any shift in the U.S. central bank's outlook on the world's biggest economy as a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve meeting starts later Tuesday.

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