Dollar mixed in Asian trade

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Tokyo - The dollar was mixed in Asia on Monday following broadly upbeat US economic data, while the yen was lifted by speculation the Bank of Japan's policy board will hold off any new stimulus measures when it meets this week.

The greenback bought 104.01 yen in midday Tokyo trade, slipping from 104.30 yen on Friday in New York, while the euro weakened to $1.3529 and 140.72 yen compared with $1.3535 and 141.17 yen.

Official figures released in Washington on Friday showed US factory output rose 0.3 percent last month, extending its streak of gains since July. Also, housing starts fell in December from November's five-year high, but the drop was not as much as forecast while the pace of home building remained strong.

There was muted reaction to figures showing China's gross domestic product expanded 7.7 percent last year, its slowest rate in 14 years at a time of concern about the strength of the world's number-two economy.

Investors will be looking for further evidence of the state of the US economy as the Federal Reserve prepares for its next policy meeting next week.

The central bank last month said it would trim its bond-buying programme by $10-billion a month to $75-billion in January, citing a firming economy. Many investors are betting on a further reduction at the January meeting.

Eyes this week are on the Bank of Japan's next policy board meeting, which wraps up on Wednesday, with expectations it will hold steady on new measures - a positive for the yen - until it can gauge the effect of an April sales tax rise.

“Although we keep an overall bearish stance regarding the yen, we do not exclude additional short-term correction risk,” Credit Agricole said.

“This is mainly due to a falling probability of the BoJ considering more aggressive policy action.”

Also this week, agencies Moody's and Fitch are to announce fresh credit ratings on Germany and France. Standard & Poor's downgraded France's rating in November. - AFP

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