Investors are watching to see if the central bank will take more monetary easing steps — such as expanding liquidity — ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa expected on Monday.
Meanwhile, much stronger-than-expected UK retail sales data lifted sterling and helped the euro off earlier lows against the dollar, though lingering concerns about the health of countries on the euro zone’s periphery capped rallies.
“The UK numbers have boosted sentiment a little, but generally the mood in the market seems slightly on the pessimistic side and people are inclined to push the euro lower,” said Gavin Friend, currency strategist at nabCapital.
At 1115 GMT, the dollar was up 0.2 percent at 85.60 yen, off a 15-year low of 84.72 yen hit on trading platform EBS last week.
The euro was 0.1 percent lower against the dollar at $1.2840, helped off its low by an upward revision of German growth forecasts from the Bundesbank.
Support was at the 100-day moving average around $1.2776, while traders noted option expiries at $1.2800 and $1.2850, which may be exerting influence on the spot price level.
The euro’s recovery came in tandem with a rise in sterling, which reversed early gains to jump more than a cent against the dollar after surprisingly strong retail sales raised hopes the UK’s economic recovery could maintain its momentum.
UK retail sales rose nearly three times faster than expected, while public borrowing also fell. Sterling was up 0.2 percent at $1.5628.
The euro came under pressure in early trade after a report on the website of German magazine Der Spiegel said austerity steps to fix Greece’s debt were harming the Greek economy.
More BOJ measures?
The yen slipped as rumours circulated earlier that the Bank of Japan would hold an emergency policy meeting. Although sources later said this was unlikely, market jitters kept the yen away from 15-year highs versus the dollar.
“There was a lot of speculation about whether the BoJ would hold an emergency meeting. It didn’t happen but there is still tension and nervousness about what action the BoJ could take,” said Niels Christensen, currency strategist at Nordea in Copenhagen.
Japanese Prime Minister Kan said on Thursday that he would talk to the country’s economics minister and finance minister along with the ruling Democratic Party’s policy chief on the state of the economy and possible stimulus steps by the end of August.
Japan’s Sankei newspaper said on Thursday the BOJ has started considering additional monetary easing steps in line with government efforts to support the Japanese economy.
Analysts said potential measures may have limited effect in weakening the yen, while most in the market do not expect Japanese authorities will intervene directly to curb the yen’s rise unless the dollar falls closer to the 80.00 yen mark.
Business2 days ago