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Wednesday October 7, 2009 - 10:16:12 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen gains, risk bid boosts commodity currencies

Wed Oct 7, 2009 5:52am EDT

* Yen touches 8-month high vs dlr but buying fades

* Dollar pressured but selling moderating

* Aussie hits 14-month high of $0.8934, next target $0.8960

* NZ dlr, Canada dlr gain; focus on U.S. earnings season

(Adds quotes, changes dateline pvs TOKYO)

By Tamawa Desai

LONDON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - The yen rose broadly on Wednesday, as market players probed how far Japanese authorities would allow the yen to rise, while commodity-linked currencies hit multi-month highs on increased risk appetite.

Traders said the yen gained as market players tried to trigger stop-loss levels in major yen pairs and as some Japanese retail investors were forced to sell currencies against the yen.

The yen edged up to a new 8-1/2 month high against the dollar at 88.08 yen, according to Reuters data.

But further buying faltered as traders were wary of pushing the dollar/yen pair below 88 yen, where large stop-loss sales lurked. A trader at a Japanese bank also said options with a strike price of 88 yen were also set to expire later in the day.

The yen was up 0.5 percent on the day against the euro at 129.85 yen EURJPY=R. But the euro held near the 200-day moving average around 129.60 yen, and stop-loss sales were seen below 129 yen.

Against the pound, the yen was up 0.6 percent at 140.28 yen GBPJPY=R, above stops seen below 140.00 and 139.70 yen, traders said.

"Underlying it all, I suspect the market wants to see how far it can push the new Japanese administration who have been sending mixed messages on its attitude towards yen strength," said Daragh Maher, deputy head of forex strategy at Calyon.

Japanese Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii said on Wednesday he was quietly watching currency moves for now, but added authorities may take some steps if moves become abnormal.

He added expectations for low U.S. interest rates were behind dollar weakness and recent moves stemmed from a falling dollar rather than yen or euro strength.

Fujii was earlier quoted as saying in a interview with the Wall Street Journal, published on Wednesday, that the current level of the yen was consistent with acceptable market activity.

The dollar remained under pressure as risk sentiment improved on the back of gains in equities and oil but selling moderated on comments by a U.S. Federal Reserve policymaker.

The U.S. dollar's fall in Asian trade was tempered after Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig said the central bank would need to remove its accommodative policy "sooner rather than later".

"The sell-off in the dollar has been moderating despite the strength in equities," said Adam Cole, global head of FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets. "The market is taking its cue from interest rates far more than before."

European shares were higher following gains in Asia and on Wall Street on expectations of economic recovery and optimism about corporate earnings. Gold prices held close to a record high set the previous day and base metals also held steady.

All these factors supported growth-linked currencies against the U.S. unit.

The Australian dollar rose to $0.8934, its highest since early August 2008, also buoyed after an Australian rate hike the previous day. The New Zealand dollar also hit a 14-month peak of $0.7397, with a surge in dairy prices helping at the margins.

The Canadian dollar touched a 1-year high of C$1.0526 CAD=.

The dollar index was down 0.1 percent at 76.235 .DXY, holding above a 13-month low of 75.827 hit last month.

Market players were looking to U.S. earnings results later in the day, especially at aluminium producer Alcoa Inc, for evidence of the strength of corporate recovery.

The euro was also flat at $1.4722 EUR=, but stayed in sight of near two-week highs touched on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever)

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