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Yen gains broadly, pushes dollar to near 2 month low

Frank van den Bergh | E+ | Getty Images

The yen rose to a three-week high against the euro and a near two month high against the dollar on Thursday, as investors sought safety following weak Italian economic data and concerns about Portugal's largest listed bank that hit European shares.

The euro also weakened against the dollar, itself under pressure after minutes of the Federal Reserve's June meeting gave no clear signal on the timing of an interest rate rise.

Data showing consumer prices in Sweden rose more than expected last month meanwhile pushed the Swedish crown to a one-week high against the common currency. That drove some investors to trim short bets against the crown made after Sweden's central bank cut interest rates sharply last week.

Volumes were largely seen in the safe-haven yen, against which the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 101.20 yen, its lowest since May 21. The euro dropped 0.5 percent to under 138 yen, its lowest since June 16.

Portuguese bond yields rose while shares in Lisbon fell after shares and bonds of the chief shareholder in Banco Espirito Santo were suspended over "material difficulties" at its parent company ESI. Italy's benchmark stock index fell 2.4 percent after data showed Italian industrial output posted its steepest monthly decline since November 2012, casting doubts over the country's economic recovery.

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Worries about BES and Italy's economy reminded investors the region's debt problems were far from over.

The euro shed 0.2 percent to fall near $1.36 after rising to a one-week high of $1.3649 when the Fed minutes were released. The minutes confirmed the U.S. central bank's monthly bond purchases would probably end in October and showed policymakers had debated the complexities of unwinding a stimulus program that has flooded the financial system with over $2 trillion.

The uncertain outlook for the timing of a first Fed rate move has kept a lid on Treasury yields, with the two-year yield hovering near three-week lows at around 0.45 percent.

--By Reuters