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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
Euro hits record high against yen
Euro notes
The euro hit a record high against the dollar last week
The euro has reached its highest rate against the yen since the European currency was launched in 1999.

The euro rose as high as 163.31 yen on expectations that the European Central Bank (ECB) would raise its interest rates in the coming months.

The perception that the Bank of Japan would only raise its own rates slowly was strengthened by wages data.

The euro also hit a record high against the US dollar last Friday after disappointing figures for US growth.

Wages falling

Japanese total cash earnings fell 0.4% in March from a year earlier, a fourth consecutive monthly fall.

The total cash earnings figure from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare includes monthly wages, overtime pay and special payments.

"Companies are reluctant to pass on corporate earnings to workers partly because of shareholders' demands that they use profits to pay more dividends or boost capital spending," said Yoshiki Shinke from Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

Unemployment falling

There were further signs of strength in the euro zone in German unemployment figures.

Headline unadjusted unemployment fell to 3.967 million in April, according to the Labour Minister, Franz Muentefering.

The figure is the lowest for more than four years and was released by the minister ahead of his Labour Day speech.

The full set of unemployment figures are due from the Federal Labour Office on Wednesday.

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