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Dollar holds firm after Bernanke speech

By Roxanne Cooper
Monday, August 29, 2011 0:33 EDT
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The dollar held firm against other major currencies in Asia on Monday after a much-awaited speech by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke boosted positive sentiment.

The euro bought $1.4480 in Tokyo morning trade, slightly down from $1.4490 in New York late Friday. It was almost flat at 111.10 yen.

The dollar edged up to 76.73 yen from 76.65 yen and rose to 0.8101 Swiss francs from 0.8063 francs.

Bernanke offered no new stimulus measures in his speech at a central bankers’ conference Friday but markets saw indications that the prospects for later easing were high.

He said the US Federal Reserve still had a range of monetary tools that could help the economy, which it will review in an expanded meeting of the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in September.

He also said he expected US growth in the second half of the year to improve after a first half in which expansion in the world’s largest economy was nearly stagnant.

“Risk sentiment has improved across the board but the higher yields (on US bonds) and higher gold suggest that markets are divided on the prospects for the need for more policy action,” National Australia Bank said in a note.

“This is unlikely to last and should settle on the one side or other,” it said.

“The September 20 FOMC meeting has been extended to two days. This suggests that the prospects for policy easing are high,” it said, arguing this should keep the dollar under pressure.

Trading was quiet ahead of an election by the Japanese ruling party later in the for a new leader. The vote ultimately determines the next prime minister. Japanese politics has historically had little impact on markets.

No candidate is expected to win a majority in the first round of voting in the five-way race of the Democratic Party of Japan, which would lead to a run-off contest, also expected on Monday.

Barclays Capital does “not expect this election to alter current FX policy, although there are differences in tone among candidates over how to cope with the strong yen”, said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief FX strategist at Barclays Bank in Tokyo.

The market was unmoved after a meeting of Japanese finance officials unveiled a list of policy proposals to new administration for dealing with the effects of the strong yen.

The measures include steps to help exporters and small businesses cope with the strong unit, which is threatening to undermine a recovery in the nation’s export-dependent economy, economy minister Kaoru Yosano said.

Bank of Japan’s deputy chief Kiyohiko Nishimura, who joined the meeting, said that the central bank would take “decisive policy steps” to deal with the high yen while keeping in close contact with the government, Yosano said.

– Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this article –

Roxanne Cooper
Roxanne Cooper is the publisher of Raw Story. She has 20+ years experience in media management, marketing, and advertising and has held positions with AlterNet, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, LA Weekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Stars & Stripes. From 2004-2008, Roxanne published the popular political blog Rox Populi. She lives in San Francisco and you can follow her on Twitter at @AlterRox.
 
 
 
 
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