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Yen dips as stocks rally and Ukraine concerns abate

TOKYO--The yen eased in Asia Tuesday as news that pro-Russian rebels had handed over the black boxes of Flight MH17 eased concerns about the Ukraine crisis.

The losses in the Japanese unit, which is considered a safe bet in times of economic and political uncertainty, were in line with a regional stock market rally as confidence returned to financial markets.

In Tokyo afternoon trade, the dollar bought 101.53 yen, up from 101.38 yen in New York Monday afternoon, while the euro rose to 137.28 yen compared with 137.10 yen. The single currency was at US$1.3520 against US$1.3523.

Thursday's downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet hit global markets as it fuelled fears of an escalation of the months-long crisis in Ukraine, with Western leaders saying it was shot down by rebels using Russian-supplied missiles.

Traders are also keeping watch on events in the Middle East as Israel undertakes a ground invasion of Gaza following air strikes and shelling that have left more than 570 Palestinians dead.

In the U.S., a strong inflation data reading later Tuesday could boost the dollar as it may prompt the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates sooner than later.

Fed chief Janet Yellen last week told lawmakers the bank could raise rates more quickly than expected if jobs data prove unexpectedly strong. But she emphasized the shift would be data dependent.

Existing home sales figures are also due out in the United States on Tuesday.

In other trading, the dollar was mostly down against other Asia Pacific currencies.

It weakened to SG$1.2406 from SG$1.2410, to 60.19 Indian rupees from 60.20 rupees, and to 43.36 Philippine pesos from 43.43 pesos.

The greenback also declined to 11,516 Indonesian rupiah from 11,564 rupiah and to 31.87 Thai baht from 32.02 baht.

The Australian dollar edged down to 93.89 U.S. cents from 93.90 cents, while the Chinese yuan was higher at 16.36 yen from 16.30 yen.

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