Currencies: Yen lower against dollar, euro as Nikkei gains

The yen fell against the dollar and the euro in Asian trade Thursday, with a recovery in the Nikkei Stock Average inviting selling of the safe-haven Japanese currency.

The dollar USDJPY, +0.47%  was at ¥119.84 compared with ¥119.16 late Wednesday in New York. The euro EURJPY, +0.24%  was at ¥141.66 from ¥141.01.

The U.S. currency remained rangebound in early Asian trade but started gaining upward momentum as the Nikkei index NIK, +1.67%  advanced further mid-morning. With the benchmark index recouping some of its losses earlier this week, the greenback rose to as high as ¥119.82.

“The stock markets are driving the gains” in the dollar against the yen, said Ayako Sera, head of market research team at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

Given a slight rise in oil prices during Asian trade from below $ 50 a barrel, “a mood of risk-off stemming from (weaker) crude oil prices is taking a breather for now,” she said.

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It depends on whether the stock market rebound will persist,” said Koji Fukaya, chief executive at FPG Securities.

With Greek political concerns and the sharp fall in oil prices still a source of concern, “it’s not easy for the market mood to swing to risk-taking,” said Mr. Fukaya. The dollar may become top heavy close to the ¥120 mark, he said, adding that while the downturn in market sentiment has slightly receded it remains unclear whether the improvement will continue.

That seems to have lessened enthusiasm toward dollar-yen trade typically seen before the release of closely-monitored U.S. jobs data for December scheduled on Friday, said Mr. Fukaya.

“Many people in their mind probably imagine the upcoming job data would show a fallback from extremely strong reading in November,” that may give the impression to the market the U.S. economy is running at a cruising speed, Ms. Sera said. If that proves to have only a neutral impact on the market, investors will try again find fresh cues such as economic indicators in the euro zone. For now, investors are awaiting manufacturing orders in Germany for November later today.

Among other currency pairs, the euro EURUSD, -0.22%  was at $ 1.1819 from $ 1.1840.

The WSJ Dollar Index BUXX, +0.12%  , a measure of the dollar against a basket of major currencies, was up 0.07% at 84.18.

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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