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Dollar rangebound in Asia after BOJ keeps policy

TOKYO -- The dollar moved in a tight range in Asian trade Tuesday after the Bank of Japan (BOJ) held off launching fresh monetary easing measures.

In Tokyo trade, the dollar fetched 103.27 yen, compared with 103.26 yen in New York Monday afternoon. The euro fell to 143.26 yen from 143.28 yen, while it also eased slightly to US$1.3867 from US$1.3875.

Policymakers kept in place the central bank's asset-purchasing scheme — which aims to stoke growth by pumping huge amounts of money into the financial system — saying the economy was picking up.

That came despite slowing growth in the last quarter of 2013 and fears that a looming tax hike will dent the recovery.

“Japan's economy has continued to recover moderately, and a front-loaded increase in demand prior to the consumption tax hike has been observed,” the BOJ said in a statement.

The decision was in line with the market consensus, “thus the limited (dollar-yen exchange rate) movements,” Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo, told Dow Jones Newswires.

He said the focus will be on BOJ governor Kuroda's news conference later in the day.

But he added: “Considering how the BOJ statement remained largely unchanged (Tuesday), I believe Mr. Kuroda's comments will also be similar to what he has said in the past — that he remains confident in Japan's economy and monetary policy.”

There is growing speculation that an April sales tax rise will force the BOJ to act later this year to counter an expected slowdown in consumer spending and the economy as a whole.

The dollar was lower against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It slipped to 60.75 Indian rupees from 61.18 rupees on Monday, to 44.48 Philippine pesos from 44.49 pesos, to 1,063.60 South Korean won from 1,066.30 won, to 32.30 Thai baht from 32.40 baht, and to SG$1.2662 from SG$1.2679.

It also weakened to 11,361.30 from 11,365 rupiah.

The Australian dollar firmed to 90.29 U.S. cents from 90.23 cents, while the Chinese yuan bought 16.83 yen against 16.77 yen.

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