• Dollar firms against yen in Asia

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    TOKYO, July 10, 2013 (AFP) – The dollar firmed against the Japanese yen in Asian trade Wednesday as markets looked to fresh insights on the Federal Reserve’s stimulus tapering plans later in the day, analysts said.

    The US currency consolidated to 101.15 yen in morning Tokyo trade, from 101.11 yen in New York late Tuesday.

    Seeing the Fed’s “discussion over the tapering could work in favor of dollar buying”, Osao Iizuka, head of FX trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, told Dow Jones Newswires.

    The dollar gained overnight in New York ahead of Wednesday’s release of the minutes from the June Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting, and a speech by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in Boston.

    Markets have for weeks intensely focused on when the Fed will taper its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program.

    In June, Bernanke signaled the program would likely be scaled down beginning in the next few months, if economic conditions support it.

    The euro was under pressure following a ratings downgrade by Standard and Poor’s of Italy based on its weak economic outlook. S&P has a “negative” outlook on the country.

    The euro bought $1.2775, compared with $1.2787, while it also fetched 129.17 yen from 129.29 yen.

    The single currency was hit on Wall Street by comments from Jorg Asmussen, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, who was quoted as saying the ECB may keep interest rates low for more than a year.

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