* BOJ expected to hold steady, with focus on Kuroda's
* Aussie dollar pushes higher as RBA minutes awaited
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Feb 18 The yen inched down against its
major counterparts in early trade on Tuesday, as investors
waited to see if the Bank of Japan would hold policy steady as
expected and perhaps hint at the possibility of further easing
The dollar rose about 0.2 percent to 102.10 yen,
pulling away from a nearly two-week low of 101.37 yen hit in the
previous session, while the euro also added about 0.2 percent on
the day to 139.91 yen.
U.S. markets were closed on Monday for the Presidents Day
The BOJ is expected to stand pat at its two-day meeting and
remain committed to increasing base money, its key policy gauge,
at an annual pace of 60-70 trillion yen.
But market participants will be waiting to see if Governor
Haruhiko Kuroda maintains the stance he took last month, that no
further easing was needed now with prices rising steadily and
overseas economies recovering, or if he hints at any more steps.
Japan's gross domestic product data released on Monday
showed the economy grew less than expected in the fourth quarter
of last year as consumer spending, business investment and
exports disappointed -- a worrying sign of waning momentum ahead
of April's planned increase to the national sales tax.
The BOJ monetary policy announcement is likely to be a
"non-event" for the yen, since no changes are expected, BK Asset
Management managing director Kathy Lien, but the minutes from
the last Reserve Bank of Australia meeting could drive the
Australian dollar higher.
"Earlier this month, the RBA dropped its bias to ease and
the minutes could provide a deeper explanation of their
reasoning for doing so," Lien said in a note.
The Australian dollar was up about 0.1 percent at $0.9036
, not far from the previous session's one-month high of
The Aussie continued to take support from Chinese lending
data on Saturday that suggested Australia's main export market
may not be cooling as much as feared.
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar retook some lost
ground. The dollar index fell as low as 79.951 in the
previous session, its lowest since late last year, before
ticking up to 80.159.
The euro was steady on the day at $1.3704, not far
from a high of $1.3723 touched on Monday, its highest level
since Jan. 24.
European Central Bank governing council member Ewald Nowotny
said on Monday that a negative deposit rate from the ECB may
fail to stimulate more lending and could have an adverse
The single currency was helped by data on Friday showing
both Germany and France grew slightly faster than expected in
the fourth quarter.