The dollar neared a 15-year low against the yen on Wednesday, staying under pressure across the board as weak U.S. data and talk of further policy easing from the Federal Reserve weighed on Treasury yields.
Data on Tuesday showed U.S. home purchase contracts tumbled to a record low in June while factory orders fell more steeply than expected, implying an anemic economic recovery for the remainder of this year.
The numbers also fueled talk that the Fed might start a new round of Treasuries purchases to pump funds into the economy, as it did during a recent quantitative easing campaign.
On the back of weak data and the Fed speculation, U.S. two-year Treasury note yields on Tuesday fell to a record low, suggesting limited upside for the dollar.
We see further dollar weakness ahead with the Fed making it clear its priority is to support growth, said Ulrich Leuchtmann, currency analyst at Commerzbank.
The dollar fell as far as 85.32 yen, its lowest since late November, and was trading at 85.40 at 5:27 a.m. ET, down 0.4 percent on the day. Traders said a decline beyond the 15-year low of 84.82 yen hit in November could open the way for the dollar to slide to the all-time low below 80 yen.
Hefty options barriers are seen set around 85 yen, meaning a drop in the dollar could pick up speed below that level.
But analysts doubt the Bank of Japan will step in to weaken the yen against the dollar at this stage.
Historically the Bank of Japan has intervened when the yen has been stronger versus other currencies. We would expect stronger verbal intervention before the government pressured the BOJ to intervene, said Raghav Subbarao, currency analyst at Barclays.
Japanese yields fell on Wednesday, with that of the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond sliding to a seven-year low below 1.0 percent on worries about the economy and persistent deflation.
Traders said this dented risk sentiment in Asia, as the Nikkei closed with losses of over 2 percent. .N225. European stocks followed the negative tone to trade around 1 percent lower .FTEU3.
The dollar index, a gauge of the greenback's performance against major currencies, was little changed at 80.655 .DXY, after closing for the first time since January below its 200-day moving average, today coming in at 80.744.
The index is threatening to revisit April lows at 80.031, while support lies at 79.724, the 61.8 percent retracement of its November to June rally.
The euro dipped 0.1 percent from late U.S. trade to $1.3210, remaining within sight of a three-month high of $1.3262, having briefly slipped to $1.3184 in European morning trade.
Large expiry interest is located at $1.3250 for the 1400 GMT cut on Wednesday and Thursday, according to IFR's maturity calendar, which traders said could influence price action.
Reuters service IFR noted a large $1.3400 expiry, in the region of 1 billion euros, set to roll off on Friday.
(Graphic by Scott Barber; Editing by Ruth Pitchford, John Stonestreet)