TOKYO–The dollar eased in Asia Thursday, paring gains in New York after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept its stimulus program in place but gave an upbeat view of the economy dealers took as a hint at a wind down soon. The greenback bought 98.38 yen in Tokyo against 98.52 yen in New York but up from 98.14 yen earlier Wednesday in Tokyo. The euro fetched US$1.3708 and 134.85 yen in Asia, from US$1.3738 and 135.35 yen. The Fed, as expected, held steady on its US$85-billion-per-month bond-buying program, underscoring the need to continue support for the sluggish economy.
However, dealers noted that it did not downgrade its view of the economy, increasing speculation it may start scaling back the program as early as December. The bank has said in the past it will only begin reeling in its program when the economy shows signs it is able to stand on its own. The dollar has been supported by the prospect of an end to the monetary easing as it would leave less cash washing around the financial system, increasing demand for the unit. But National Australia Bank said: “While the Fed repeated that the downside risks to the outlook have diminished, a remarkably strong set of data would be required over the next six weeks for the Fed to change its tune significantly at the December (policy-setting meeting).” The Bank of Japan on Thursday held off launching fresh easing measures as the economy shows increasing signs that a government-backed policy blitz aimed at reviving growth is gaining traction. The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies. It weakened to 61.36 Indian rupees from 61.70 rupees on Wednesday, and to SG$1.2390 from SG$1.2397. It also fell to 1,059.83 South Korean won from 1,060.78 won but rose to 43.29 Philippine pesos from 43.19, to 11,293.00 Indonesian rupiah from 11,209 rupiah and to 31.08 Thai baht from 31.07 baht. The Australian dollar rose to 94.89 U.S. cents from 94.78, while the Chinese yuan edged up to 16.14 yen from 16.08 yen.