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Tuesday October 31, 2006 - 00:52:00 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Yen slips after soft data suggest patient BOJ

FOREX-Yen slips after soft data suggest patient BOJ
Mon Oct 30, 2006 7:23pm ET138

TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The yen slipped further from a one-month high against the dollar on Tuesday after weak economic data in Japan cast some doubt on whether the Bank of Japan would be able to raise interest rates again this year. Japan's unemployment rate ticked up to 4.2 percent in September from 4.1 percent the prior month. Household spending plunged 6.0 percent in September from a year earlier, much worse than expected and dropping for a ninth straight month.

Economists said the data may mean that Japan's gross domestic product contracted in the third quarter, which could prompt the Bank of Japan to wait until next year before raising rates to 0.5 percent from the current 0.25 percent.

A minority of market players still believe the BOJ could raise rates in December.

"If GDP comes in negative, the BOJ will probably be on hold, at least until next year," said Hiroshi Shiraishi, an economist at Lehman Brothers in Tokyo.

The dollar climbed to 117.65 yen from near 117.50 yen in late New York trade, pulling away from the one-month low of 117.13 yen struck on Friday after a report showing surprisingly weak U.S. growth in the third quarter.

The euro rose to 149.55 yen and was back in sight of the 150.80 yen struck on Friday on electronic trading platform EBS, the strongest since the single currency was first launched in 1999.

But the euro dipped to $1.2715 from $1.2725.

The BOJ will release its semiannual report on the economic outlook at 0600 GMT, which provides the central bank's forecasts and lays out its framework for monetary policy.

BOJ officials have repeatedly said they will raise interest rates gradually but they are looking at the economy's broad performance in assessing policy and not just focusing on the pace of rise in core consumer prices.

The central bank also holds a one-day policy meeting and is widely expected to keep overnight rates at 0.25 percent, while BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui will give a news conference starting at 0630 GMT.

With the BOJ taking a go-slow approach to raising rates, the low-yielding yen has fallen out of favour with many investors. Many market players have also borrowed yen and used the funds to buy higher-yielding currencies in the carry trade.

The dollar recovered on Monday after data showing solid consumer spending suggested the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates steady at 5.25 percent for a while.

With financial markets still looking for the Fed's next move to be a rate cut in 2007, the figures showing solid income growth and spending raised doubts about whether the U.S. economy's expansion has slowed enough to prompt such a response.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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