TOKYO–The dollar was mixed in Asian trade Tuesday ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, with speculation growing that policymakers will further reduce the bank’s stimulus program. In afternoon trade, the dollar bought 102.68 yen, compared with 102.56 yen late in New York, and well up from the seven-week low of 101.77 yen touched in Tokyo earlier Monday.
The euro rose to 140.32 yen from 140.21 yen and US$1.3677 against US$1.3670, after a closely watched index on Monday showed German business confidence surged in December. Global equity and forex markets have been in turmoil since the end of last week after a plunge in the Argentine peso sparked fresh worries about developing nations’ economies. The sell-off in Buenos Aires came on the back of data indicating manufacturing activity in China — a key driver of global growth — had contracted in January. The growing pessimism sent investors to seek out safer, lower-return assets, particularly the Japanese yen, which is considered a safe haven in times of economic uncertainty. The Fed on Wednesday wraps up a two-day meeting and investors will be looking to see if it announces any further cuts to its stimulus, which could fuel fears of a capital flight away from emerging markets as dealers look for safer investments. Dow Jones Newswires reported Monday that central banks in several Asian nations including Indonesia and Thailand appear to have stepped into forex markets to support their currencies, although none confirmed such moves. On Tuesday afternoon the dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies. It edged up to 12,265 Indonesian rupiah from 12,240 rupiah on Monday, and to 63.03 Indian rupees from 62.72 rupees. The greenback slipped to 45.29 Philippine pesos from 45.42 pesos, to 1,078.25 South Korean won from 1,083.70 won, and to SG$1.2744 from SG$1.2764, while staying almost flat at 32.90 Thai baht against 32.91 baht. The Australian dollar firmed to 87.86 U.S. cents from 87.24, while the Chinese yuan fetched 16.95 yen against 16.94 yen.