Yen volatile on BOJ chatter, dollar down after dovish Fed

The U.S. dollar has regained some strength in recent weeks.
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The U.S. dollar has regained some strength in recent weeks.

The dollar tumbled against major currencies on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve pared back expectations for interest rate increases, while the yen was volatile on speculation the Bank of Japan was concerned about the Japanese currency's strength.

The dollar fell 1 percent against a basket of currencies. Against the yen, it dropped sharply early in the session but bounced back on news that the Bank of Japan was asking dealers about recent movements in the yen.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the central bank was asking market players about the causes of sudden moves in the dollar/yen.

The dollar, which had earlier hit a low of 110.68 yen, rebounded and was last trading at 111.48. In the last month, the yen has been strengthening against the dollar after the Bank of Japan elected to move to a negative-interest-rate policy at the end of January. The dollar's low on Thursday represented its lowest level since October 2014.

Analysts were skeptical that the BOJ would consider intervening to weaken the currency.

"It would be a bit strange for the BOJ to start intervening," said Charles St-Arnaud, senior strategist and economist at Nomura International in London. "You're just a month after the G20 where (Japan) pledged not to use competitive devaluation to their advantage and to let market forces determine the currency."

The dollar was also lower against other major currencies, continuing weakness spurred by the Federal Reserve's statement after its policy meeting ended on Wednesday. The U.S. central bank was more dovish than anticipated, causing those who had been buying dollars to reverse those positions.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major world currencies, trimmed some losses in response to stronger-than- expected figures on Philadelphia-area regional manufacturing activity and weekly U.S. jobless claims.

However, the rally was short-lived. It was last down 1.1 percent at 94.77, and touched a low against the Canadian dollar not seen since October.

Sterling made the biggest gains against the dollar on Thursday. Bolstered by the Bank of England's decision to keep rates unchanged, the pound was last up 1.6 percent to $1.4478.