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Yen under pressure on BoJ nominee's comments


The yen was under pressure in Asia Monday as the nominee for governor of the Bank of Japan repeated his vow to ramp up monetary easing, while the dollar won support from strong US jobs data.

In Tokyo afternoon trade, the greenback bought 96.10 yen, against 95.97 yen in New York late Friday, while the euro also strengthened at 125.00 yen from 124.83 yen.

The euro fetched $1.3011 from $1.3004, as markets look ahead to a batch of eurozone economic data this week and after Fitch downgraded Italy's debt rating, citing political instability.

Haruhiko Kuroda, a finance veteran and the government's choice to head the Bank of Japan, said under his stewardship the BoJ would move to meet a two-percent inflation target that policymakers adopted in January.

"Since monetary easing actions so far haven't been sufficient, (I) will take every measure possible to achieve a two percent target if approved as governor," Kuroda told a parliamentary confirmation hearing.

However, he threw cold water on talk of buying foreign bonds, effectively an easing measure as it would require selling huge amounts of yen to purchase the foreign-denominated debt.

Such purchases would aggravate months-long criticism from abroad that Tokyo was devaluing the yen to help exporters, risking a global face-off in which rival nations drive down their currencies.

The dollar also strengthened after the US Labor Department on Friday reported 236,000 jobs were generated in February and the US unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January.

"With the US economy looking like it's on a firm recovery track, investors are pricing in a dollar-yen target of 98-100," SMBC Friend Securities Head of investment and research Fumiyuki Nakanishi told Dow Jones Newswires.

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It firmed to 1,094.30 South Korean won from 1,092.00 won last week, to Tw$29.68 from Tw$29.64, and to Sg$1.2483 from Sg$1.2467.

It weakened to 9,687 Indonesian rupiah from to 9,695 rupiah, to 29.73 Thai baht from 29.78 baht, to 54.22 Indian rupees from 54.45 rupees, and to 40.69 Philippine pesos from 40.72 pesos.

The Australian dollar slipped to $1.0222 from $1.0243 while the Chinese yuan strengthened to 15.42 yen from 15.28 yen.