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Dollar soars to one-week high vs yen on Japanese stimulus expectations

Sheets of one dollar bills run through the printing press at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC.
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Sheets of one dollar bills run through the printing press at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC.

The dollar rose to a one-week high against the yen on Monday, climbing more than 2 percent, following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call for a fresh round of fiscal stimulus after a victory for his ruling coalition in local elections.

News that the stimulus could reach 10 trillion yen ($97.5 billion) helped Japan's stock market jump 4 percent and sent the dollar soaring against the Japanese currency. The Bank of Japan is expected to provide additional easing to keep interest rates low and the yen weak to make sure stimulus spending can gain traction.

"It now looks like there's coordinated fiscal and monetary policy," said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York. "If you get a fiscal policy that is expansive ... the natural thing is to finance that with money-printing."

Investors had been buying the yen through much of this year as the Bank of Japan chose to hold off on currency intervention. Abe has promised to revive the economy with hyper-easy monetary policy, fiscal spending and reforms, a collective program known as "Abenonics."

"It looked like part of what held the BOJ back several times earlier this year is it just didn't make sense to expand (quantitative easing) if there's no coordination with fiscal policy," Anderson said. "But now there is."

The dollar rose as much as 2.3 percent to a high of 102.82 yen, on pace for its biggest one-day gain since April.

The greenback fell as low as 99 yen on June 24 in the aftermath of Britain's decision to leave the European Union, which drove investors to the Japanese currency and other safe havens.

The dollar hit a four-month high of 96.793 against a basket of major currencies, having already received a lift by a U.S. jobs report that outpaced even the loftiest expectations on Friday. The report pushed investors to price back in the chance of an increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve before the end of the year.

The dollar index was last up 0.24 percent at 96.54.

Sterling reversed earlier losses to turn positive on the day after Theresa May emerged as the only remaining candidate to lead Britain's ruling Conservative Party and become prime minister following rival Andrea Leadsom's exit from the race.