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Sunday, April 20, 2014  

Yen on track for biggest yearly drop on hopes of BoJ easing
SINGAPORE The yen held above a two-year low versus the dollar on Monday but remained on track for its largest annual drop in seven years, pressured by expectations for more forceful monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.

The dollar last stood at 86.13 yen, staying below Friday’s high of 86.64 yen, which was the greenback’s strongest level versus the Japanese currency since August 2010.

As the year draws to a close, the dollar is up about 11.9 per cent against the yen for 2012, putting it on track for its biggest percentage gain versus the Japanese currency since 2005.

With a new Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expected to pursue a policy mix of aggressive monetary easing and heavy fiscal spending to beat deflation, analysts see the yen staying under pressure in 2013.

A near-term focal point, however, is whether US. lawmakers can hash out a last-minute deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that are set to take effect from early January.

Efforts to prevent the US. economy from tumbling over the fiscal cliff stalled on Sunday as Democrats and Republicans remained at loggerheads in their talks.

After adjourning for the day, the US. Senate was set to reconvene on Monday, leaving just hours to pass any deal that may emerge through both chambers of a bitterly divided Congress.

“If things stay the way they are, there will be little choice but to see a ‘risk-off’ move starting from January 2,” said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.

The yen could push higher in the short term due to the concerns about the US. fiscal cliff, Okagawa added.

Market players have been fretting that equities and other risky assets may come under pressure if US. lawmakers fail to reach an agreement before January 1.

Such a broad retreat from risk-taking could bolster the dollar against currencies such as the euro and the Australian dollar. In times of market turbulence, investors often flock to the greenback, which is regarded as a safe haven because it is highly liquid.

The euro slipped 0.1 per cent to $1.3201, inching away from an 8-month high of $1.33085 hit on December 19. Against the yen, the euro held steady at 113.685 yen, down from a 17-month high of 114.675 yen set on Friday. The euro has risen roughly 14 per cent against the yen in 2012, putting it on track for its biggest yearly per centage gain versus the yen since the euro was launched in 1999.

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