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Yen mixed in Asia with focus on Japan GDP data

TOKYO: The yen was mixed in Asia on Friday as investors eye third-quarter Japanese growth figures next week while speculation swirls of a delay to a controversial sales tax hike and a possible snap election next month.

In Tokyo, the greenback hovered around seven-year highs at 116.20 yen, up from 115.75 yen on Thursday in New York, while the euro slipped to 144.37 yen from 144.42 yen.

The European single currency also weakened to $1.2443 against $1.2476.

Forex markets were likely to tread water ahead of Monday’s release of gross domestic product data for July-September, analysts said, after the previous three months saw a contraction. Another negative reading would put the economy in technical recession.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing calls to put off the increase in sales tax, which is due in October, after a similar increase in April threw a nascent economic recovery into reverse. Reports have also said he is thinking of calling a snap election next month, which his party would more than likely easily win.

Tokyo has said the growth figures will be key to its decision on whether or not to usher in the next tax hike.

“All eyes are on Monday’s third-quarter gross domestic product data, which will be used to justify everything that’s being reported in the press — from the imminent dissolution of the lower house to the putting off of next year’s sales tax hike,” Kazuyuki Terao, chief investment officer at Allianz Global Investors, told Dow Jones Newswires.

In other trading, the pound slipped to $1.5668 from $1.5708 in New York after the Bank of England this week cut its growth and inflation forecasts, suggesting interest rates will be kept at record lows for some time to come.

The dollar was mostly stronger against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It rose to Sg$1.2940 from Sg$1.2924 on Thursday, to 1,099.33 South Korean won from 1,097.21 won, to 32.85 Thai baht from 32.82 baht, to Tw$30.64 from Tw$30.59, and to 44.93 Philippine pesos from 44.87 pesos.

The dollar also strengthened to 12,217.30 Indonesian rupiah from 12,210.00 rupiah and to 61.64 Indian rupees from 61.54 rupees.

The Australian dollar weakened to 86.90 US cents from 87.00 cents while the Chinese yuan was at 18.94 yen against 18.89 yen. -AFP

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