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Dollar eases on uncertainty over BOJ, Fed policy

Adek Berry | AFP | Getty Images

The U.S. dollar eased from an eight-day high against the yen on Wednesday after skepticism grew that the Bank of Japan would intensify its stimulative monetary policies next week, while uncertainty about Federal Reserve policy pressured the greenback against other currencies.

The dollar eased from a session high of 103.34 yen touched in early trading and was last down 0.1 percent against the Japanese currency at 102.40 yen.

Sources familiar with the BOJ's thinking said the central bank would consider making negative interest rates the centerpiece of future easing by shifting its prime policy target to interest rates from base money.

Doubts grew, however, that the BOJ would take a more dovish stance at its meeting on Sept. 20-21 or that it would be able to significantly weaken the yen if it did ramp up its accommodative monetary policies.

"When you sit back and think about it, how much of an impact will the BOJ actually have?" said Dean Popplewell, chief currency strategist at Oanda in Toronto. "The market does perceive to a certain extent that the BOJ is tapped."

The BOJ shocked markets in January by cutting rates below zero for the first time in an attempt to weaken the yen, but the yen reaction was only temporary, and it has since gained more than 15 percent against the dollar.

Analysts said uncertainty about the next development from the Fed prevented traders from making bullish bets on the greenback. The halt in the dollar's gains came after the greenback jumped against the euro and commodity currencies on Tuesday.

Traders expect just a 15 percent chance that the Fed will hike rates next week, according to CME Group's FedWatch program.

"On the dollar side, I think it's more important what's going on with the Fed," said Win Thin, global head of emerging market currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

The Aussie hit a nearly seven-week low against the dollar on Tuesday of $0.7443, but last traded slightly higher against the greenback at $0.7473. The New Zealand dollar was last 0.47 percent higher against the dollar at $0.7287 after hitting a more than one-week low of $0.7282 Tuesday.

The euro was last up 0.3 percent against the dollar at $1.1249. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was last down 0.31 percent at 95.34.