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Yen firm in Asia as investors await central bank meetings

TOKYO -- The yen held firm in Asia Monday as jittery investors watched the latest developments in the Ukraine crisis, while awaiting meetings of the U.S. and Japanese central banks this week.

In afternoon Tokyo trading, the dollar was changing hands at 102.17 yen against 102.19 yen in New York late Friday, while the euro inched down to 141.23 yen from 141.36 yen. Traders tend to move into the safe-haven yen during times of turmoil or uncertainty.

The European single currency slipped to US$1.3824 from US$1.3832.

In Ukraine pro-Russian militants in the country presented a captured team of international observers as “prisoners of war” Sunday, raising the stakes in the crisis as U.S. President Barack Obama warned Moscow against “provocation.”

He said Russia had “not lifted a finger” to implement a peace deal struck in Geneva on April 17 to ease the crisis, adding that Moscow faced “consequences, and those consequences will continue to grow.”

Obama and his Western allies are planning a new round of sanctions against Moscow that could be introduced as early as Monday.

The Federal Reserve holds a two-day meeting this week, with markets looking for hints from the U.S. central bank about the state of the world's biggest economy and any change to its stimulus tapering.

The Bank of Japan's meeting will also be pored over for any new clues about the Asian giant's economy and its plans for its own stimulus scheme.

The dollar was lower against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

The dollar slipped to 44.57 Philippine pesos from 44.68 pesos on Friday, to SG$1.2563 from SG$1.2580, and to 1,036.15 South Korean won from 1,040.75 won.

The greenback edged down to 11,582 Indonesian rupiah from 11,585 rupiah, and to 32.23 Thai baht from 32.34 baht.

The Australian dollar was at 92.81 U.S. cents against 92.79 cents, while the Chinese yuan slipped to 16.31 yen from 16.34 yen.

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