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Yen picks up after G7 currency clash

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 13:27
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The yen picked up Monday after the G7 wagged its finger at Japan over threats to weaken its currency, reminding Tokyo of previous commitments not to intervene in forex markets.

[TOKYO] The yen picked up Monday after the G7 wagged its finger at Japan over threats to weaken its currency, reminding Tokyo of previous commitments not to intervene in forex markets.

The currency clash was in the spotlight as finance ministers from the club of rich nations met in northern Japan at the weekend for two days of talks focused on how to boost the global economy.

Going into the meetings, host Japan had hoped that its G7 counterparts - the US, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Canada - would give it some wiggle room to tame the resurgent yen, as it threatens Japan Inc's profits.

However, the group agreed on the "importance of all countries refraining from competitive devaluation", while US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew pressed Tokyo to uphold earlier promises not to interfere with exchange rates.

In response, Japan's finance minister Taro Aso said he told his US counterpart that Tokyo was merely reacting to "one-sided, abrupt, and speculative moves" in forex trading.

The yen has seen several steep jumps since the start of the year, soaring more than 10 per cent against the greenback at one stage, in a blow to Japan's exporters just as the economy slowed.

Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda added his voice to the issue on Monday, saying that the central bank's monetary policy - which had helped sharply weaken the yen in recent years - does not target exchange rates.

In afternoon trading, the dollar weakened to 109.92 yen from 110.15 yen in New York late Friday, while the euro was lower at 123.42 yen from 123.50 yen.

The euro fetched US$1.1229, edging up from US$1.1220 in US trade.

"The G7 currency discussions basically ended with the US and Japan agreeing to disagree on the extent of speculation in recent currency moves," said Nizam Idris, head of foreign-exchange and fixed-income strategy at Macquarie Bank in Singapore.

"That may in itself present a high hurdle for the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan to intervene," he told Bloomberg News.

In other trading, the dollar broadly weakened against Asia-Pacific currencies, slipping 0.70 per cent against the South Korean won, while it was down 0.20 per cent against the Indonesian rupiah and 0.35 per cent on the Malaysian ringgit.

Markets will be looking to comments from Federal Reserve officials, including chair Janet Yellen, this week for the latest clues about the timing of a US interest rate hike.

AFP