TOKYO — The yen rallied against the U.S. dollar on Thursday, while emerging currencies were boosted by U.S. Federal Reserve minutes highlighting unease over raising interest rates too soon given global economic weakness. Huge volatility on equity markets driven by concerns over a global slowdown have sent traders scurrying for the Japanese unit, which is considered a safe bet in times of turmoil. On Thursday, the U.S. dollar fell to 108.56 yen, erasing most of its gains since the Bank of Japan, in October 2014, last expanded its vast asset-buying program. The U.S. dollar, which was at 109.76 yen Wednesday in New York, was trading at more than 114 yen at the start of the year, when world markets were hammered by worries over global growth. The euro slipped to 124.13 yen Thursday from 125.10 yen while it rose to US$1.1412 from US$1.1398. The minutes from the Fed’s latest meeting, which suggested broad consensus behind chair Janet Yellen’s view that a sluggish global economy requires interest rates to stay low, amplified the greenback’s weakness against its Asian peers. “The market will be reluctant to fully price in rate hikes for 2016 until data become more compelling and global risk sentiment becomes even more elevated,” Imre Speizer, an Auckland-based market strategist at Westpac Banking, told Bloomberg News. “The dollar will be under downward pressure in the near term.”
Among higher-yielding emerging units, the oil-linked Malaysian ringgit soared against the U.S. dollar after crude prices in U.S. trade climbed above US$40 in reaction to a large fall in commercial crude inventories. The ringgit surged 0.40 percent, while Indonesia’s rupiah and the Thai baht also booked healthy gains.