Yen, Dollar Weaken as Stock Gains Boost Higher-Yield Currencies

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The yen and the dollar weakened on speculation gains in Asian stocks and U.S. equity futures fueled demand for higher-yielding assets.

The euro approached a two-month high against Japan’s currency on expectations European investors will bring home overseas earnings before the end of the first quarter. South Korea’s won gained the most in almost two months against the dollar as overseas investors bought more of the nation’s shares than they sold. The Australian and New Zealand dollars advanced as Asian stocks rose.

“We’ve got a lot of green on the board in Asian equities and that’s good for risk-taking appetite,” said Sean Callow, a senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp., Australia’s biggest lender by market value. “It would certainly fit into the yen weakness that’s been one of the biggest stories over the past month. That also works to the detriment of the dollar.”

The yen dropped to 125.42 versus the euro as of 7:51 a.m. in London from 124.65 late in New York yesterday. The dollar dropped to $1.2706 per euro from $1.2611. The U.S. currency declined to 98.69 yen from 98.84 yen.

Japan’s currency fell 1 percent to 63.04 versus the Australian dollar, and weakened 0.7 percent to 49.06 against the New Zealand dollar from late in New York yesterday.

The yen slid against 14 of the 16 most actively traded currencies after a Cabinet Office report today showed the leading index of business conditions fell to 77.1 in January from 80 in December, below the consensus forecast of 77.4 in a Bloomberg News survey. The coincident index, which shows current economic activity, dropped to 89.6 from 92.4.

From Bloomberg News.