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May 29, 2017

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Yen weakens in Asia on BOJ easing speculation

TOKYO -- The yen eased in Asia Monday as surprisingly weak Japanese factory output boosted speculation that the Bank of Japan would expand its stimulus program to prop up the world's number-three economy.

In afternoon Tokyo trade, the dollar crept up to 102.84 yen from 102.80 yen in New York on Friday.

The euro bought US$1.3747 and 141.39 yen compared with US$1.3752 and 141.38 yen.

Official data showed Japan's industrial output in February fell 2.3 percent month-on-month following a 3.8-percent expansion in January. Economists had widely predicted a 0.3 percent rise.

"Today's data show that Japan's manufacturing sector lost some speed ahead of (Tuesday's) increase in the consumption tax," Capital Economics said.

The data weighed on the yen as it could nudge the Bank of Japan towards widening its asset-buying stimulus, which was put in place last year to kickstart the economy.

The dollar was also being supported by figures showing U.S. consumer incomes and spending gained for a second straight month in February.

Focus is now on the release Tuesday of the BOJ's Tankan survey of Japanese business sentiment while the U.S. Labor Department will on Friday unveil closely watched non-farm payrolls data for March.

Eurozone inflation figures are due later Monday. With recent data showing prices rises remain weak, the latest release will put the spotlight on the European Central Bank as it prepares for its next policy meeting Thursday.

The dollar was mostly lower against other Asia-pacific currencies.

It slipped to 59.89 Indian rupees from 60.05 rupees on Friday, to 11,361.30 Indonesian rupiah from 11,410.00 rupiah, and to 32.46 Thai baht from 32.51 baht.

The greenback also fell to 1,066.55 South Korean won from 1,068.66 won and to 44.84 Philippine pesos from 44.98 pesos. It edged up to SG$1.2619 from SG$1.2616.

The Australian dollar fell to 92.23 U.S. cents from a four-month high of 92.95.

The Chinese yuan fetched 16.52 yen against 16.41 yen.

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