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Japanese yen under pressure as nation's trade deficit swells

TOKYO--The yen was weaker against the dollar and the euro in quiet Asian trade Monday after data showed Japan's trade deficit quadrupled year-on-year in March.

The greenback fetched 102.52 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, up from 102.46 yen Friday, while the euro was up at 141.66 yen from 141.46 yen. The single currency drifted lower to US$1.3817 from US$1.3812.

In other currencies, the greenback firmed to 1,039.00 South Korean won from 1,038.18 won Friday and to 11,437.00 Indonesian rupiah from 11,423.80 rupiah.

It also edged up to 32.23 Thai baht from 32.18 baht and to 60.33 Indian rupees from 60.29 rupees.

It was almost flat at SG$1.2525 against SG$1.2526, while it weakened to 44.41 Philippine pesos from 44.43 pesos.

The Australian dollar firmed to 93.34 U.S. cents from 93.32 cents while the Chinese yuan fetched 16.46 yen against 16.45 yen.

Most leading financial markets around the world were closed Friday and Monday for Easter.

The yen faced moderate selling pressure after Japan said early Monday that its trade deficit surged to US$14 billion in March, with a weak yen compounding surging imports as consumers rushed to buy ahead of a sales tax rise on April 1.

But the dollar is unlikely to breach 103 yen any time soon as investor sentiment has yet to completely turn the risk-on mode, says Osamu Takashima, chief FX strategist at Citi Bank Japan, in a morning note.

“We don't feel any sign that aggressive yen selling is set to start amid falling volatility,” Takashima said.

Eyes are on the release this week of key economic data, including manufacturing activity around the world as well as retail, jobs and housing figures in the United States.

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