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Dollar sags in Asia on Syrian tension

27 August 2013, 14:55 AFP

Tokyo - The dollar edged down against the safe-haven yen in Asia on Tuesday due to concerns over a possible US military action against Syria.

The dollar was at ¥98.29 in Tokyo afternoon trade, down from ¥98.51 in New York Monday afternoon.

The euro bought $1.3373 and ¥131.45 compared with $1.3369 and ¥131.68.

The greenback lost ground in the wake of a decline in Tokyo stocks and due to concerns over a possible US military strike against Syria, said a dealer at a Japanese bank.

"The possibility of the US military attacks could make investors risk averse, weighing on the dollar," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

US Secretary of State John Kerry gave the most explicit warning yet to Damascus that the US would take action over the chemical weapons attack, which he labelled a "moral obscenity".

Speaking amid reports that Washington and its allies are preparing to launch a punitive cruise missile strike on Syrian targets, Kerry accused Bashar al-Assad's regime of engaging in a cover-up.

"Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity," he declared in a televised statement.

"By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable."

Emerging Asia currencies were mostly lower, with the Indian rupee trading at 65.32 to the dollar, down from 64.23 Monday afternoon and close to a record low of 65.56 last week.

Expectations of an end to the US stimulus programme have seen investors in recent months repatriate some of the vast sums that have poured into emerging economies, hitting currencies and equities.

"Coming on the heels of Friday's soft US new home sales report, the market has become even more alert to the (US) economy's readings into the September 18 FOMC," National Australia Bank said.

Some speculate the US central bank would announce its start of tapering the bond-buying programme at the next September 17-18 meeting of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

The dollar rose to 10,925 Indonesian rupiah from 10,770 on Monday.

It went up to 44.43 Philippine pesos from 44.20 pesos, to 1,115.85 South Korean won from 1,113.20 won, and to Sg$1.2824 from Sg$1.2791, and to Tw$29.97 from Tw$29.89.

The Thai baht was flat at 32.16 baht.

The Australian dollar fell to 89.81 US cents from rose to 90.39c. The Chinese yuan fetched ¥16.03 against ¥16.07.


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