The U.S. dollar dropped to a fresh 15—year low against the yen, adding further pain to Japan’s vital exporters, amid persistent concerns about the outlook for the U.S. economy.
The dollar slid as low as 84.17 yen on Tuesday afternoon in 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.”
Traders are also skeptical that authorities from Japan and other nations will intervene in currency markets to reverse the dollar’s slide, which erodes the overseas earnings of Japanese exporters.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa held a phone conversation on Monday but did not discuss foreign exchange intervention.
“Verbal intervention is no longer effective at this point,” said Yuji Kameoka, chief currency strategist at Daiwa Institute of Research in Tokyo. “If the BOJ and the government acted now, there is a limit to what they can do as there is no sign of international cooperation.”
The dollar’s latest drop comes amid concerns about weakness in the U.S. economy, which has dragged down stock markets worldwide.
Mr. Kameoka said it’s difficult to predict how low the dollar will go. Investors and analysts are watching a series of U.S. economic indicators coming out this week, including reports on home sales, durable goods orders, consumer confidence and revised second quarter GDP.
The recent slew of weaker indicators has raised fears the world economy will slip back into recession though some analysts say those worries are overblown.
In Tokyo, the yen’s gains further depressed Japan’s stock market. The Nikkei 225 stock average declined 121.55 points, or 1.3 percent, to 8,995.14, the lowest since May 2009. Sony Corp.’s stock sank 3.7 percent.
The dollar fell to a post World War II low of 79.75 yen in 1995.