Dollar mixed in Asia after upbeat housing, jobs data

PHOTO: Dollar mixed in Asia after upbeat housing, jobs data

TOKYO - The dollar was mixed in Asian trade Friday after encouraging US data on housing and jobs, while the yen weakened ahead of a Bank of Japan meeting widely expected to usher in further easing measures.

The greenback bought 89.98 yen in Tokyo midday trade, against 89.86 in New York, where the US unit briefly rose above 90 yen to a fresh 30-month high on Thursday.

The euro traded at 120.38 yen and US$1.3379, against 120.20 yen and US$1.3375 in US trade.

The dollar won some support from a fall in weekly US jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, and a rebound in housing starts in December.

Solid results of a Spanish bond auction also provided support to the euro, dealers said.

The yen's seesaw trade in recent days follows a string of reports in Japanese media suggesting the central bank, under pressure from the new government, will launch fresh easing after a policy meeting next week and strike a deal with Tokyo to set a two-per cent inflation target.

Japan's economic minister Akira Amari said the BoJ and government had yet to reach agreement on a joint statement committing to the inflation target, after a meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso and BoJ chief Masaaki Shirakawa Friday.

But "things are going in a good direction. I think we'll be able to announce something after the BoJ meeting next week", Amari was quoted by Dow Jones Newswires as saying.

The inflation target is part of the government's bid to kickstart the limp Japanese economy, and was one of the Liberal Democratic Party's promises ahead of a general election it won by a landslide last month.

Amari sparked a yen rally earlier this week when he said a rapid fall in the value of the yen could hurt the economy as it would make the cost of goods rise.

However, the unit quickly fell back after he said the remarks were misinterpreted, telling the The Wall Street Journal Thursday that "my view is that the currency market is still in a phase of correcting from excessive yen strength. That was the case back then, and is the case now."