* Dollar slips from Friday's 4-1/2 year high vs yen
* Asian shares firmer after Friday's Wall Street rally
By Masayuki Kitano
SINGAPORE, May 20 The yen pulled up from a 4-1/2
year low against the dollar on Monday after Japan's economics
minister said a further steady drop in the yen could have
negative effects on households, pushing the dollar to a low of
"People say the excessively strong yen has corrected quite a
bit. If the yen continues to weaken steadily from here, negative
effects on people's lives will emerge," Economics Minister Akira
Amari told a Sunday talk show - sparking some buying back of the
yen in a thin market.
The dollar, which gained last week on speculation that the
U.S. Federal Reserve could soon begin to rein in its bond-buying
programme, remained within sight of a near three-year high set
on Friday versus an index of currencies.
Some Asian stock markets edged higher, boosted by U.S.
equities hitting record closing highs on Friday as encouraging
economic data prompted investors to buy into growth companies.
U.S. consumer sentiment rose to its strongest in nearly six
years in early May, while a gauge of future economic activity
rose in April to a near five-year high.
On Friday, the upbeat indicators had lent support to the
dollar, which climbed last week on speculation that the Fed
might taper its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases later this
Such chatter had increased after John Williams, president of
the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said on Thursday the
Fed could begin easing back on the monetary gas pedal this
summer and end bond buying late this year.
The dollar fell to as low as 102.00 yen earlier on Monday.
The greenback later pared its losses, and last fetched 102.86
yen, down 0.4 percent on the day. The dollar had risen to 103.32
yen on Friday, its highest level versus the Japanese currency
since October 2008.
"It was on the back of those Amari comments ... especially
after the big rally in dollar/yen on Friday. But thin liquidity
is exacerbating the moves," said Sue Trinh, senior currency
strategist at RBC in Hong Kong.
The dollar index, which measures the dollar's value against
a basket of currencies, stood at 84.204, not very far
from Friday's high of 84.371, its strongest level since July
In the stock market, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific
shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent, with
Australian shares rising 0.9 percent, while South Korean
shares were flat.
Japan's Nikkei share average touched its highest intraday
level since December 2007, and was last up 1 percent
Gold tumbled 1.5 percent to a one-month low of $1,338.95
, pressured by expectations the Fed could soon halt its
asset buying programme.
Brent crude rose 0.1 percent to $104.73 a barrel.