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Yen weakens in Asia as Bank of Japan starts 2-day policy meeting

TOKYO--The yen weakened in Asian trade Monday as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) kicked off a two-day policy meeting, with investors also eyeing testimony from the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve later this week.

In Tokyo afternoon trading the greenback rose to 101.40 yen, up from 101.23 yen in New York on Friday, while the euro strengthened to 137.95 yen from 137.78 yen in U.S. trading.

The euro was nearly flat against the dollar at US$1.3602 from US$1.3604.

The Japanese central bank was widely expected to stand pat on any fresh policy moves after its meeting wraps up Tuesday.

But investors are increasingly betting on the likelihood that the BOJ will make a move later in the year after growth slowed following a sales tax rise in April — more monetary easing by the BOJ would likely further weaken the yen.

Markets are also eager to see what Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen says to Congress about the state of the U.S. economy and the likely timeline for raising interest rates as the central bank winds down its five-year stimulus campaign.

Yellen is to deliver the bank's semi-annual report on the economy and monetary policy to Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Fresh data including U.S. factory output and retail sales are also due this week.

China's latest GDP figures, due Wednesday, along with a string of other data are also in focus as markets look for clues about the strength of the world's number two economy.

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It eased to SG$1.2410 from SG$1.2427 on Friday, to 32.14 Thai baht from to 32.21 baht, to 59.97 Indian rupees from 60.16 rupees, and to 1,018.54 South Korean won from 1,020.15 won.

The greenback rose to 43.53 Philippines pesos from 43.50 pesos and to 11,657.50 Indonesian rupiah from 11,587 rupiah Friday.

The Australian dollar firmed to 93.96 U.S. cents from 93.86 cents, while the Chinese yuan fetched 16.34 yen against 16.31 yen.

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