SINGAPORE, Dec 20 (Reuters) – The safe-haven Japanese yen was up in early Asian trade on Monday after attacks in Germany and Turkey spooked investors, while regional stocks were steady as financial markets pondered upbeat comments from the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Traders were also looking ahead to the Bank of Japan’s rates decision later in the day, and while policy settings are set to be kept steady the focus will be on Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s take on surging global bond yields and the impact on rates in Japan.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent in early trade on Tuesday, while Tokyo’s Nikkei was flat.
Wall Street ended higher on Monday, albeit below the session’s highs, as optimism over Yellen’s upbeat comments about the U.S. labor market offset some of the risk aversion after attacks in Germany and Turkey.
"It seems like (Yellen) is acknowledging the continued improvement in the jobs market. That’s pretty consistent with what she and other policymakers have been saying," said Eric Viloria, currency strategist at Wells Fargo Securities in New York.
The markets were rattled after a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin Monday evening, killing nine people and injuring up to 50 others, in what appeared to be one of the deadliest attacks in Germany in decades.
The euro slid 0.5 percent to $1.0401 on Monday and was little changed at $1.04065 in early Asian trade on Tuesday.
The euro was also pressured on concerns over security in the West after the Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot and killed in an attack at an art gallery in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
The Turkish lira was steady at 3.5327 per dollar on Tuesday after falling 0.7 percent on Monday. The rouble was also little changed on Tuesday at 61.8245 per dollar. It slumped to as low as 62.0907 per dollar on Monday but recovered to end the day up 0.3 percent at 61.8475.
The flight to safety following the attacks boosted the Japanese yen, although the safe haven currency pared some of the gains as the dollar strengthened after Yellen’s comments.
The U.S. dollar, which fell as much as 1.2 percent on Monday against the yen, ended the session down 0.7 percent at 117.205 yen. It was 0.1 percent weaker at 117.11 yen on Tuesday.
Investors are awaiting the outcome of a two-day Bank of Japan policy meeting later on Tuesday at which the central bank is widely expected to maintain its 10-year government bond yield target as a generally weaker yen helps Japan’s economic prospects, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.
The U.S. dollar has risen 11.3 percent versus the yen since the surprise presidential election victory of Republican Donald Trump.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global peers, climbed 0.2 percent on Monday after Yellen’s upbeat labor market assessment, and was little changed at 103.08 on Tuesday.
Gold, which rose 0.4 percent on Monday, surrendered some of the gains to trade 0.1 percent lower at $1,137.66 early on Tuesday.
Oil was flat on Tuesday amid low volumes as the market awaited clarity on whether U.S. production from shale fields would grow enough to offset planned output cuts by OPEC, Russia and other producers next year.
U.S. crude held steady at $52.11 per barrel after closing up 0.4 percent on Monday.