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While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe piled pressure on the Bank of Japan to weaken the yen last week, the Federal Reserve struck the first blow against the currency.

A signal from Fed board members that they may end bond purchases in 2013 helped drive the yen to a 2½-year low of 88.41 per dollar on Jan. 4, still 15 percent stronger than its decade average. The extra yield on 10-year Treasuries instead of similar-maturity Japanese government bonds reached 1.13 percentage points last week, the most in nine months, attracting funds into dollar assets.

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