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Greenback tests out ¥103 range

JIJI

The dollar touched a three-week high of ¥103 in Tokyo trading Monday following rises in overseas trading, although the dollar-yen pair was stuck in a narrow range on the final day of Japan’s fiscal year.

At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at ¥102.96-98, up from ¥102.14-16 at the same time Friday. The euro was at $1.3758-3758, up from $1.3739-3740, and at ¥141.65-68, up from ¥140.33-35.

In overseas trading Friday, the dollar jumped from levels slightly above ¥102 to near ¥103, with the pace of advancement accelerated by buying to limit losses on dollar-short positions, market sources said. Higher U.S. stock prices helped the dollar’s advance as well, they added.

In Tokyo on Monday, the greenback reached ¥103.00 in late trading after hovering just below that threshold.

Traders were generally sitting on the fence at the end of the fiscal year and ahead of this week’s key economic events, including the Bank of Japan’s “tankan” quarterly business sentiment survey in March, to be released Tuesday, and the U.S. government’s March employment report, due out Friday.

The euro also moved narrowly against both the yen and the dollar in the run-up to the European Central Bank’s policy-setting meeting Thursday, traders said.

Trading volume was padded by fiscal yearend transactions in the morning by Japanese importers and exporters, sources said.

“Players are expected to remain on the sidelines for a while after fiscal 2014 begins,” an official at a major Japanese bank said.

The market is paying particular attention to business outlook figures in the tankan survey, hoping to discern how companies are assessing the impact of Tuesday’s consumption tax hike on their business, sources said.

If the outlook numbers show substantial deterioration, it would “swell market expectations for fresh easing by the BOJ and thus induce yen selling,” an official at a major U.S. securities firm said.