Dollar hits eight-month yen low
The dollar fell to the lowest level in more than eight months against the yen on Wednesday, as weak US data fuelled doubts about the strength of recovery in the world’s top economy, dealers said.
Elsewhere, the euro retreated a day after reaching a three-month high against the US unit.
The dollar sank to 85.33 yen, touching the lowest level since November 27 following recent comments from Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda about yen strength. It later pulled back slightly to stand at 85.48 yen.
The euro slipped to 1.3213 dollars from 1.3230 dollars late in New York on Tuesday.
Dealers said that if the US economy continued to slow, the US Federal Reserve might have to step in with fresh stimulus measures which would likely weaken the dollar further.
The greenback took a hit from reports of a slight dip in US consumer spending as well as a fall in factory orders and pending home sales, which added to fears about the state of the US recovery.
“Pressure to sell the dollar has intensified amid speculation that the FOMC (Federal Reserve Open-Market Committee) could move for additional monetary easing,” Credit Suisse said in a note.
“It seems that the Bank of Japan would also need to take some sort of measures to curb the yen’s strength,” it said.
But it added it would also be difficult for the bank to take concrete monetary-easing measures given it raised its estimate of Japan’s economic growth only recently.
Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Tuesday suggested that the government might be reluctant to intervene in currency exchange markets.
“Our fundamental stance is that foreign exchange rates are something that should basically be set by the market,” Noda said during a session of the lower house’s fiscal and financial committee.
The strong yen hurts Japanese exports, which have been driving the country’s slow recovery from deep recession.
However, analysts said they could not rule out the possibility of some form of Japanese intervention, adding that a dollar fall below 85.00 could trigger action.
“We do expect that Japan will draw a line in the sand… at 85.00, since a sustained fall below here would significantly crimp Japanese exporters,” noted John Kyriakopoulos of National Australia Bank.
In trading in London, the euro changed hands at 1.3213 dollars against 1.3230 dollars on Tuesday, at 112.95 yen (113.54), 0.8301 pounds (0.8293) and 1.3761 Swiss francs (1.3746).
The dollar stood at 85.48 yen (85.80) and 1.0418 Swiss francs (1.0385).
The pound was at 1.5915 dollars (1.5950).
On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to 1,196.07 dollars an ounce from 1,187.50 dollars an ounce on Tuesday.