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Dollar firm in Asia with focus on Fed rate hike timing

Dollar firm in Asia with focus on Fed rate hike timingSINGAPORE: The dollar firmed in Asia Monday with investors focusing on the timing of a US interest rate increase after debt-strapped Greece reached a bailout agreement with its creditors.

The dollar rose to 124.17 Japanese yen in afternoon Singapore trade from 124.09 yen late Friday in New York.

The euro weakened to $ 1.0827 from $ 1.0830 after the dollar pushed to a three-month high against the single currency on Friday.

The euro was changing hands at 134.44 yen from 134.38.

Japanese markets were closed Monday for a public holiday.

Analysts said the dollar was in focus after US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen last week stuck to her forecast for an increase in the entral bank’s key interest rate later this year, as the economy picks up pace.

“The US dollar is firm. Grexit worries have subsided,” DBS Bank said in a market commentary, referring to fears of debt-strapped Greece exiting the eurozone if it had not met bailout terms demanded by creditors.

“Focus returned to monetary policy divergences. Europe and Japan are set to keep their quantitative easing programmes running well into 2016… The US is, on the other hand, looking to hike rates and normalise monetary policy,” it added.

ANZ bank said that “with Greece out of the way, the US Fed’s expected rate lift-off is back as the market driver” for currency traders.

In Greece, banks will reopen Monday after the country last week agreed to a tough fiscal package to earn a three-year bailout from its international creditors.

A bridging loan of 7.16 billion euros granted by the European Union last week will enable Greece to make a 4.2-billion euro payment to the European Central Bank on Monday as well as repay debts to the International Monetary Fund outstanding since June.

The dollar was also up against other key Asia Pacific currencies.

It advanced to 1,152.78 South Korean won from 1,146.93 on Friday, to Sg$ 1.3712 from Sg$ 1.3666, to 63.5413 Indian rupees from 63.48 and to 13,380 Indonesian rupiah from 13,343.

The greenback also jumped to 45.29 Philippine pesos from 45.15, to 34.32 Thai baht from 34.18 and to Tw$ 31.1670 from Tw$ 31.1200.

The Australian dollar bought 73.58 US cents, down from 74.17 cents, while the Chinese yuan rose to 19.9961 yen from 19.9700.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

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