TOKYO:- The yen firmed against the dollar and the euro in Asian trade Monday as sliding oil prices provoked growth concerns.
The haemorrhaging price of a barrel of oil — down 47 percent since the June peak to below $57 for West Texas Intermediate — dragged US stocks to one of their worst losses of the year Friday.
That completed a global rout of equity markets where players fear the sharp drop in crude could do more harm to many economies than it does to help consumers.
The yen, seen as a secure investment target in time of economic uncertainty, was up slightly against the dollar, trading 118.73 yen in afternoon trade in Tokyo, against 118.78 yen in New York late Friday.
The euro fetched $1.2441, compared with 1.2464 in New York, while the common currency slipped to 147.68 yen from 148.05 yen.
The yen was also being supported by Sunday’s election victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe which is taken as an endorsement of his economic programme, analysts said.
However, Abe’s win was expected and had been largely factored in, so the market focus was quickly shifting to the US Federal Reserve’s policy meeting this week, with expected good news for the dollar.
The Fed could give a clearer indication of a rate hike in mid-2015. “US economic indicators have been good since the jobs data,” so the dollar-yen “will likely continue on a rising trend,” said Osao Iizuka, head of foreign-exchange trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
Junichi Ishikawa, market analyst at IG Securities, agreed, saying that investors need to stay cautious about a higher yen.
Investors barely reacted to the Bank of Japan’s quarterly Tankan survey that showed confidence among major Japanese manufacturers edged down in the three months to December.
The dollar was mostly higher against other Asia-Pacific currencies.
It gained to Sg$1.3128 from Sg$1.3119 on Friday, to 1,103.28 South Korean won from 1,101.94 won and to 12,695.80 Indonesian rupiah from 12,437.00 rupiah.
The greenback also rose to 62.50 Indian rupees from 62.44 rupees, to 32.82 Thai baht from 32.79 baht, to 44.65 Philippine pesos from 44.59 pesos and to Tw$31.33 from Tw$31.31.
The Australian dollar fell to 82.27 US cents against 82.76 cents, and the Chinese yuan was flat at 19.17 yen.
— Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story –