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Thursday December 18, 2008 - 21:53:22 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar jumps vs yen as intervention risk mounts


Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:11pm EST

* Dollar posts biggest one-day gain vs yen in over a month

* Japanese finance minister says intervention is an option

* Dollar rebounds from near 3-month low vs euro

* BoJ seen to cut rates Friday following Fed's move (Adds comments, updates prices; changes byline)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar posted its biggest one-day rise against the yen in more than a month on Thursday as speculation mounted that the Japanese government may intervene to halt its currency's advance.

The dollar also rose against the euro as some investors took profits after the single currency's sharp gains in recent sessions.

The yen fell a day after hitting its highest level in more than 13 years after Japanese authorities stepped up their rhetoric against a stronger currency, which is hurting the nation's exporters.

Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said on Thursday he is watching the currency market "with a sense of urgency." He refrained from commenting on whether the ministry would intervene, but added that it has the option to do so. For details, See [ID:nTKF003218]

"We saw a reversal in dollar/yen based on the rising risk of FX intervention by Japan," said Vassili Serebriakov, currency strategist at Wells Fargo in New York. "If the yen were to strengthen again, intervention would be very possible.

"It will certainly slow down the yen's advance," he added.

In late afternoon trading in New York, the dollar <JPY=> rose 2.3 percent to 89.29 yen, after hitting a session high at 90.02 yen. The dollar fell to 87.11 on Wednesday, the lowest level in more than 13 years.

The Bank of Japan will announce its interest-rate decision at the end of its two-day policy meeting on Friday, and analysts said the Federal Reserve's aggressive rate cut on Tuesday has raised pressure on the BoJ to cut rates.

Two-thirds of economists polled by Reuters this week expect the Japanese central bank to cut rates from the current 0.3 percent. [ID:nT238594]


The dollar rebounded from a nearly three-month low against the euro after the greenback sold off sharply following the Fed's rate decision on Tuesday.

"The moves that we saw (in the dollar) since the Fed's rate decision were fairly dramatic so we wouldn't be surprised to see some corrective pullback at this stage," said Serebriakov at Wells Fargo.

The euro last traded down 1.2 percent at $1.4236 <EUR=>. The euro had earlier risen to $1.4719, the highest level since Sept. 25.

Adding to pressure on the euro was an announcement from the European Central Bank that it would widen its interest- rate corridor and cut the return it gives banks for holding cash at the bank.

The rate of the deposit facility will be reduced from 50 to 100 basis points below the rate of the main refinancing operation, the bank said. [ID:nLI212723]

In addition, analysts said the euro's latest rise may also give the ECB room to cut interest rates again next month rather than stand pat as some in the market are expecting.

"The strength of the euro could cause the ECB to change its stance on keeping rates steady because recent euro gains are really the same as a tightening of policy," said Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT Forex in New York.

Declines in the dollar gained momentum earlier this week after the Fed's big rate cut tilted the yield differential in favor of the single euro-zone currency. (Additional reporting by Wanfeng Zhou and Steven C. Johnson in New York; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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