TOKYO — The dollar held steady in Asia Tuesday ahead of U.S. housing data, while the yen was under pressure after a record Japanese trade deficit boosted speculation of more central bank monetary easing. In Tokyo afternoon trade, the greenback fetched 102.64 yen, slightly up from 102.62 yen in New York on Monday. The euro bought 141.59 yen against 141.58 yen while it was also nearly unchanged at US$1.3795 from US$1.3794 in U.S. trading. “The dollar remains firm, especially against the yen after Japanese trade number disappointed,” Credit Agricole said. The yen has been under pressure since Monday when Japan said that its trade deficit surged to US$14 billion in March, with a weak currency compounding surging imports as consumers rushed to buy ahead of a sales tax rise on April 1. The weak data underscored concerns about Japan’s recovery as the country’s first levy increase in 17 years threatens to take a bite out of consumer spending.
That, in turn, has upped speculation the Bank of Japan will have to expand its monetary easing plan, which would tend to weigh on the yen. Investors are now eyeing U.S. housing data later in the day and durable goods orders on Thursday as they try to gauge the state of the world’s largest economy, ahead of the Federal Reserve’s meeting later this month. In other trading, the dollar rose to 60.71 Indian rupees from 60.33 rupees on Monday, to 11,513.80 Indonesian rupiah from 11,437.00 rupiah, and to SG$1.2544 from SG$1.2525.
It edged up to 32.32 Thai baht from 32.23 baht, and to 44.50 Philippine pesos from 44.41 pesos. The greenback slipped to 1,038.60 South Korean won from 1,039.00 won.
The Australian dollar firmed to 93.50 U.S. cents from 93.34 cents while the Chinese yuan fetched 16.44 yen against 16.46 yen.