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US Dollar, euro at five-year yen highs

TOKYO--The dollar and euro hit five-year highs against the yen in Asia Friday as investors bet that the U.S. Federal Reserve will announce a start to its long-awaited stimulus wind-down next week.

The greenback bought 103.86 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade from 103.36 yen in New York on Thursday, while the euro fetched 142.76 yen compared with 142.15 yen — both at highs not seen since October 2008.

The single currency was also at US$1.3743, from US$1.3752.

The release in Washington on Thursday of data showing retail sales rose 0.7 percent in November — better than the 0.6 percent forecast — added to widespread speculation that the Fed will begin to cut its bond-buying this month.

The Fed holds its final policy meeting of the year on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The yen has also been pressured by a growing sense that the Bank of Japan will add to its own monetary easing scheme after a marked slowdown in the country's third-quarter economic growth.

Dealers said a closely watched BoJ business confidence survey due Monday will give a better idea of the bank's plans for its stimulus, which it put into effect in April.

Japanese officials including BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda have hinted there may be more easing to come with a sales tax rise in April expect to take a bite out of consumer demand just as the world's third-largest economy picks up.

The Australian dollar fell to a near four-month low of 89.36 U.S. cents from 91.35 cents after the head of the country's central bank said he wanted to see it at 85 to help stimulate trade-exposed sectors of the economy.

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It rose to 32.08 Thai baht from 32.02 baht on Thursday, to 12,030 Indonesian rupiah from 11,985 rupiah, to 1,052.95 South Korean won from 1,052.60 won and to SG$1.2564 from SG$1.2494.

It also rose to 62.13 Indian rupees from 61.36 rupees, while slipping to 44.21 Philippine pesos from 44.27 pesos.

The Chinese yuan firmed to 17.06 from 16.92 yen.

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