Yen weakens as BoJ sticks to easing policy

The yen weakened in Asia Thursday as the Bank of Japan opted to keep its huge monetary easing scheme in place.

In Tokyo midday trading, the dollar fetched 96.76 yen from 96.39 yen in New York Wednesday, while the euro also strengthened to 129.07 yen from 128.55 yen in US trading. The European single currency was flat at $1.3334.

In a widely expected move, Japan's central bank said its board voted unanimously to keep the existing policy in place after a two-day policy meeting.

Investors are also keeping a close eye on the US Federal Reserve, with growing speculation it would soon start tapering its own huge stimulus programme.

A pull-back on the Fed's monetary easing would shrink the number of dollars in the financial system, boosting demand and the greenback's value.

The BoJ, which unveiled its own gigantic bond-buying scheme in April, said the outlook for the world's third-biggest economy was looking brighter, while early signs of rising prices were good news for its efforts to hit a two-percent inflation target in as many years.

Easing tends to weigh on a currency so the BoJ's decision to keep its policy in place dragged the yen lower.

Currency markets were also keeping a close eye on better-than-expected Chinese trade data.