U.S. dollar hits 15-year low against yen

The U.S. dollar dropped to a fresh 15-year low against the yen on Tuesday, adding further pain to Japan’s export-oriented economy.

The dollar slid as low as 84.17 yen Tuesday afternoon on Tokyo, the lowest since 1995, before recovering slightly to 84.47 yen.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda held an emergency news conference at his ministry, but only said officials would be watching the situation closely.

“Obviously, it’s an one-sided movement,” Mr. Noda said. “We will monitor the market movement extremely closely with grave concern.”

The drop comes amid concerns about sluggishness in the U.S. economy and skepticism that Japanese authorities will intervene in currency markets to weaken the yen, whose strength erodes the overseas earnings of the country’s exporters.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa held a phone conversation Monday but did not discuss foreign exchange intervention.

The yen’s gains further depressed Japan’s stock market. The Nikkei 225 stock average declined 121.55 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 8,995.14 – the lowest since May, 2009. Sony Corp.’s stock sank 3.7 per cent.

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