TOKYO–The dollar held steady in Asia Tuesday as investors await the release of U.S. jobs data later in the week, while they largely ignored a Bank of Japan survey that showed business confidence at a more than six-year high. In afternoon Tokyo trade, the dollar crept up to 103.26 yen from 103.22 yen in New York on Monday. The euro bought US$1.3776 and 142.25 yen, compared with US$1.3772 and 142.15 yen. The BOJ Tankan survey for January-March hit its highest level since December 2007, pointing to a pick-up in confidence in corporate Japan along with the economy. However, it pointed to tepid investment among major firms and slumping sentiment for the April-June quarter, suggesting fears about the impact of a sales tax rise that came into effect on Tuesday.
“Firms are cautious about the future course of the economy as the impact of the tax hike remains uncertain,” said Hideki Matsumura, an analyst at Tokyo’s Japan Research Institute. There are fears the tax rise will hit consumer spending and derail Japan’s recovery. Yosuke Hosokawa, head of forex sales at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, said: “The Tankan results were within our market expectations and did not affect forex exchange trading. “The focus has already moved to U.S. unemployment figures to be released (Friday). In the long-run, dollar-buying sentiment is likely to be supported as U.S. interest rates are on course to rise.” The dollar was mostly lower against other Asia-Pacific currencies. It slipped to 11,276.50 Indonesian rupiah from 11,361.30 rupiah on Monday, to 32.38 Thai baht from 32.46 baht, to 1,059.35 South Korean won from 1,066.55 won, to 44.77 Philippine pesos from 44.84 pesos and to SG$1.2587 from SG$1.2619. It was flat at 59.89 Indian rupees. The Australian dollar edged up to 92.64 U.S. cents from 92.23 cents. The Chinese yuan fetched 16.61 yen against 16.52 yen.