* Yen firmer as Beijing's property curbs spook China markets
* Aussie dollar hits lowest level since mid-July
* Euro dips vs dlr, not far from Friday's 2-1/2 month low
* Single currency hampered by weak euro zone data
By Masayuki Kitano
SINGAPORE, March 4 The yen edged higher and the
Australian dollar skidded to an eight-month low on Monday as
investors were spooked by Beijing's decision to hit the mainland
property sector with strong curbs, triggering a selloff in Asian
China's Shanghai Composite index tumbled 3.2 percent
after Beijing announced more property market tightening measures
on Friday in a bid to contain housing costs.
The Australian dollar fell to as low as $1.0117,
its lowest level in nearly eight months. It last stood at
$1.0124, down 0.8 percent from late U.S. trade on Friday.
Against the yen, the Aussie dollar slid 0.8 percent to 94.60
yen. The yen, seen as a safe-haven in times of market
uncertainty, edged higher against other major currencies as
well, with the U.S. dollar slipping 0.2 percent to 93.43 yen
"There is basically a bit of a risk-off type of move," said
Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo
Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.
"(Emerging) Asian currencies and the Australian dollar are
weak, and while I'm not sure if you can say definitively that
we're seeing risk-off, things aren't looking too good either,"
Highlighting the retreat in risky assets, MSCI's broadest
index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell
1.7 percent to a nine-week low.
Last week's China manufacturing data "were worse than
expected and the latest move on the property sector deepens
uncertainty about how funds would flow within the Chinese
economy," said Chiyuki Shiraiwa, economist at SMBC Nikko
Securities in Tokyo.
The yen showed limited reaction to comments from Haruhiko
Kuroda, the Japanese government's nominee as the next Bank of
Huge purchases of longer-dated Japanese government bonds is
a natural way to ease monetary policy, but central bankers must
monitor the side-effects, Kuroda said on Monday during a
confirmation hearing in parliament.
Kuroda's remarks contained few surprises, said a trader for
a Japanese bank in Bangkok.
"The comments that have come out today are in line with
expectations and have not triggered renewed selling of the yen.
They didn't contain any big disappointments either," the trader
Kuroda, president of the Asian Development Bank and an
advocate of aggressive monetary easing, would replace incumbent
Masaaki Shirakawa, who is due to leave office on March 19.
EURO REMAINS UNDER PRESSURE
The euro hovered near a 2-1/2 month low while the dollar
stayed close to a six-month high versus a basket of currencies
as signs of improvement in the U.S. economy stood in stark
contrast to a series of weak euro zone data.
The euro slipped 0.1 percent to about $1.3009, not
very far from Friday's low of $1.2966 set on trading platform
EBS, the single currency's lowest level since Dec. 11 and its
weakest in more than 2-1/2 months.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback's value
against a basket of major currencies, stood at 82.321,
having hit a high of 82.509 on Friday, its strongest level in
more than six months.
Broad U.S. spending cuts that automatically kicked in on
Friday and threatens to dampen economic growth did little to
curb the dollar, which was supported by data released on Friday
that showed a pick-up in U.S. manufacturing activity.
On the other hand, data out of the euro zone painted a bleak
picture, with business surveys released on Friday showing that
European manufacturing appeared no closer to recovery in
February, while official data showed that unemployment in the
currency union hit a new high of 11.9 percent in January.
"The U.S. is not looking particularly good, but in
comparison (to the euro zone) it's looking somewhat better,"
said Rob Ryan, strategist for RBS in Singapore.