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yen 400 copyTOKYO: The yen lost more ground in Asian trade Friday, hitting a seven-month low against the euro, while markets eye progress in a simmering US budgetary impasse.


The dollar gained on the Japanese currency in Tokyo afternoon trade, buying 82.50 yen from 82.10 yen in New York late Thursday.


The euro fetched 107.22 yen, up from 106.58 yen in US trade, after hitting a new seven-month high of 107.28.


Against the greenback, the 17-nation euro traded at $1.2997 from $1.2978.


The persistently strong yen, seen as a safe haven from turmoil in Europe and a wobbly US economic recovery, has been losing steam in recent weeks.


It took a hit after Japan's main opposition leader Shinzo Abe vowed to pressure the Bank of Japan into more aggressive easing measures if he is elected as the country's prime minister at polls next month.


Abe has been widely tipped to defeat the government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, which on Friday approved an 880 billion yen ($10.7 billion) stimulus package ahead of the December 16 elections that his ruling party is widely expected to lose.


Daisuke Karakama, market economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank, said the yen's drop Friday may have stemmed from Japan's widening trade deficit rather than a specific piece of news.


"It's month-end and some people say what we are seeing today could be a result of the country's trade deficits," he said.


"We used to see dollar selling at month-end but the opposite may be happening now due to need for dollars to finance imports," told Dow Jones Newswires.


On Thursday, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner said, after meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, there had been "no substantive progress" in talks over the so-called fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax hikes.


The package is due to come into effect on January 1 and could throw the US into recession unless a deeply divided Congress agrees on a new budget deal.


"No matter, markets have shrugged off initial disappointment at Boehner's remarks, and evidently continue to travel hopefully in the expectations that a deal will get done before year end," National Australia Bank said in a note.


Forex markets reacted little to Japan posting a surprise 1.8 percent jump in its October factory output.


The dollar was mostly lower against other Asia-Pacific currencies.


It fell to 54.57 Indian rupees from 55.28 rupees Thursday, to Sg$1.2205 from Sg$1.2214, to 1,083.07 South Korean won from 1,084.10 won, and to 9,624 Indonesian rupiah from 9,637 rupiah.


The dollar also sank to 40.81 Philippine pesos from 40.92 pesos and to 30.69 Thai baht from 30.71 baht while holding steady at Tw$29.08.


The Australian fell to $1.0429 from $1.0472 while China's yuan firmed to 13.22 yen from 13.20 yen.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

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