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Thursday March 12, 2009 - 09:28:32 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen rallies, up 1.3 pct vs dlr; SNB eyed

Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:19am EDT

* Yen broadly up, gains more than 1 pct vs dollar, euro

* Dlr down 1.3 pct at 95.86 yen <JPY=>

* Dlr gains vs euro, stg as equity markets weaken

* Swiss franc pressured before rate decision, QE talk

(Recasts, changes dateline prvs TOKYO)

By Tamawa Desai

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - The yen rallied broadly on Thursday, rising more than one percent against the dollar and euro, as Japanese investors repatriated funds and short-term speculators bought yen.

Japanese investors typically bring home funds to window dress their books ahead of the end of the business year in March.

"The yen has been the biggest mover, and flows data indicate repatriation which is exactly what is expected at this time of year ahead of the Japanese fiscal year-end," said Ian Stannard, senior foreign exchange strategist at BNP Paribas.

"But it's in no-one's interest for the yen to strengthen too much, and I would expect a corrective pullback," he added.

The dollar fell as low as 95.79 yen, its weakest in two weeks. It was last down 1.3 percent at 95.86 yen <JPY=>.

Others said short-term speculators saw the dollar had faced strong resistance in the 99.50-100 yen area and were now selling it short-term.

The dollar's rally from a 13-year low in January lost steam as it approached 100 yen last week.

The euro, sterling and the Australian dollar also weakened against the Japanese currency. The euro fell 2.0 percent to 122.24 yen <EURJPY=>.

Elsewhere, the dollar recovered as a recent run in risk appetite lost steam, with the euro and sterling both down against the dollar.

The euro was down 0.5 percent at $1.2760 <EUR=> and sterling was down 0.8 percent at $1.3747 <GBP=>.

European shares prices extended early losses and were down 1.1 percent, after Tokyo share prices fell more than 2 percent.

The dollar had lost ground recently as a rally in global equities boosted risk appetite and lessened demand for the highly liquid currency.

SNB IN FOCUS

Swiss franc was pressured against the dollar as the market awaited whether the Swiss National Bank would announce any so-called quantitative easing measures along with a widely expected rate cut later on Thursday.

The dollar was up 0.3 percent at 1.1578 francs <CHF=>.

"More interesting than the rate cut will be what the SNB has to say about unconventional policy measures, including measures to weaken the Swiss franc - or at least prevent it from strengthening any further," said Chris Turner, head of forex strategy at ING.

Steps being considered include buying government or corporate debt. But analysts are also focused that currencies would likely be a key part in any decision, such as through unsterilised currency intervention and setting a floor for euro/Swiss franc.

The euro was down 0.2 pct at 1.4761 franc <EURCHF=>. The SNB is set to announce its monetary policy assessment at 1300 GMT.

Traders expect the upper band of key rates to be cut by 25 basis points to 0.25 percent.

The New Zealand dollar briefly touched a two-week high of $0.5145 after the central bank limited its interest rate cut to 50 basis points. It later fell back to $0.5076 <NZD=>, down 0.7 percent on the day.

Data on Thursday also showed Japan's economy shrank 3.2 percent in the final three months of last year, revised from an initial drop of 3.3 percent but still the sharpest contraction since the oil crisis in 1974. [ID:nT7510].

"The GDP data was a bit better than expected but it didn't have much impact on the forex market," said Nobuaki Kubo, vice president of BBH Investment Services. (Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Editing by Andy Bruce)

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