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Yen sinks to four-year low on Japan stimulus
Japan's currency on Monday slipped to its lowest level against the dollar in almost four years, as the country's central bank embarked on its latest aggressive round of stimulus measures.

The yen fell 1pc to 98.57 per dollar after reaching 98.95, the weakest since June 2009. The latest decline came after the yen last week tumbled 3.4pc, the biggest drop in more than three years.

Weighing on Japan's currency is the massive stimulus drive adopted by the central bank. Last week, the bank made a drastic shift in monetary policy as it pledged to double the amount of money in circulation in its latest attempt to banish deflation and spur growth.

On Thursday, the bank announced it would launch a "a new phase of monetary easing both in terms of quantity and quality" and double the money supply by between 60 trillion yen and 70 trillion yen (£417.6bn to £487bn) a year to push prices higher and achieve a 2pc inflation target at the "earliest possible time."

Haruhiko Kuroda, Japan's central bank governor, said at the time that the bank would continue to pump money into the economy until the inflation target was "sustainably forseen".

The bank also announced that it would double its purchases of long-term government bonds by more than 11 basis points to 0.436pc, a level not seen since June 2003. On Monday, the central bank was seen conducting its first bond purchases since announcing the new monetary easing steps last week.

Analysts predicted further falls in the yen, given the bank's stance. “It’s likely that the yen will depreciate further given the BOJ’s unprecedented easing,” said Yuichi Kodama, a chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. “If the yen weakens too much, that could turn out to be problematic.”

While the yen has come under pressure, Japanese stocks have surged as investors pile into exporters' shares. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 2.8pc to 13,192.59, its highest close since August 2008.

"The BoJ's bazooka has sparked the buying of Japanese stocks, especially domestic sectors like real estate," said Yasuo Sakuma, a portfolio manager at Bayview Asset Management.

The head of Japan's largest business lobby said on Monday that the dollar's current level above 98 yen is a welcome development for Japanese manufacturers.

Hiromasa Yonekura, the chairman of business lobby Keidanren, also welcomed the rise in stock prices following the bank's move, telling reporters that it would boost consumer spending.

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, welcomed the bank's monetary stimulus plan too. Speaking in China on Sunday, she said that loose monetary policies and unconventional measures had helped boost global growth, adding that the reforms announced in Japan were another step in this direction.

As rising stocks and stimulus measures bolster the outlook for Japan's economy, the country has rebounded to a current account surplus. The surplus in February, the first in four months, was 637.4bn yen, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday.

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