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Dollar firm at upper end of 131 yen in Tokyo morning trade.

TOKYO, April 9 Kyodo

The U.S. dollar was firm in the upper half of 131 yen in Tokyo on Tuesday morning on news that the Israeli army had started to withdraw from some Palestinian areas of the West Bank.

At midday, the dollar traded at 131.70-72 yen, compared with Monday's 5 p.m. quotes of 131.50-60 yen in New York and 131.29-31 yen in Tokyo.

The U.S. currency moved between 131.50 yen and 131.72 yen during the morning.

Dealers said news reports that Israeli troops had started pulling out of two West Bank cities on Tuesday encouraged dollar buying against the yen.

''After the last few weeks of worrying about the Middle East, the market welcomed the good news,'' said a dealer at Aozora Bank, noting that Japanese interbank dealers and trading houses showed interest in buying the U.S. currency.

Also contributing to the firmness of the dollar was a report that Moody's Investors Service Inc., the U.S. credit rating agency, may downgrade its rating on Japanese government bonds by early May, dealers said.

Another factor working against the yen was reports on a radiation leak at the Fugen thermal reactor in Fukui Prefecture, they said.

Generally, however, the market is cautious, owing to negative factors that linger over the dollar, dealers said.

''There are still concerns about high prices of crude oil which could slow the recovery in the U.S. economy, as well as the earnings reports of U.S. companies, that could be worse than expected,'' the Aozora Bank dealer said.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Apr 15, 2002
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