• Yen dips as stocks rally and Ukraine tensions ease

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    TOKYO: The yen eased in Asia on Tuesday as news that pro-Russian rebels had handed over the black boxes of Flight MH17 eased concerns about the Ukraine crisis.

    The losses in the Japanese unit, which is considered a safe bet in times of economic and political uncertainty, were in line with a regional stock market rally as confidence returned to financial markets.

    In Tokyo afternoon trade, the dollar bought 101.53 yen, up from 101.38 yen in New York Monday afternoon, while the euro rose to 137.28 yen compared with 137.10 yen. The single currency was at $1.3520 against $1.3523.

    Thursday’s downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet hit global markets as it fuelled fears of an escalation of the months-long crisis in Ukraine, with western leaders saying it was shot down by rebels using Russian-supplied missiles.

    However, on Tuesday it emerged the separatists had given the plane’s two black boxes to Malaysian officials and announced a ceasefire with a 10-kilometre (six-mile) radius around the crash site to allow a international probe.

    They also allowed a train carrying the remains of 280 of the 298 people killed in the disaster to leave the region.

    Despite the breakthrough, European Union foreign ministers will meet in Brussels Tuesday to discuss toughening sanctions against Russia over its links to the militants.

    Traders are also keeping watch on events in the Middle East as Israel undertakes a ground invasion of Gaza following air strikes and shelling that have left more than 570 Palestinians dead.

    In the US, a strong inflation data reading later Tuesday could boost the dollar as it may prompt the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates sooner than later.

    Fed chief Janet Yellen last week told lawmakers the bank could raise rates more quickly than expected if jobs data prove unexpectedly strong. But she emphasised the shift would be data dependent.

    AFP

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