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Wednesday January 6, 2010 - 11:48:28 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen falls as FinMin resigns; euro trims losses

6:38am EST

* Yen falls as Japan Fin Min resigns; fiscal concerns weigh

* Euro off lows vs dollar; mkt monitors Greece situation

* Focus on Friday's U.S. jobs data; U.S. ADP, ISM data ahead

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, Jan 6 (Reuters) - The yen fell against the dollar on Wednesday after Japan's finance minister Hirohisa Fujii's resignation was accepted, while the euro trimmed losses against the dollar as earlier concerns about Greek fiscal health ebbed.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan will become finance minister, with Fujii -- one of the few experienced members of the novice Democratic Party-led government -- resigning due to ill health. [ID:nTKB006647]

Fujii's departure was seen adding to the challenges piling up for the Japanese government as it wrestles with deflation, a fragile economy and huge public debt.

Elsewhere, the euro remained weak against the dollar but it was well off lows hit earlier in response to comments from European Central Bank executive board member Juergen Stark that the European Union would not bail out Greece.

Analysts said market players still believe that the EU will find a solution to Greece's huge fiscal problems as EU and ECB officials were due to arrive in Athens on Wednesday for an inspection visit. [ID:nSGE60509G]

At 1114 GMT, the dollar had risen around 0.7 percent against the yen <JPY=> to 92.37 yen, having hit a session high of around 92.50, according to Reuters data. The euro <EURJPY=R> rose 0.7 percent to 132.73 yen.

"The Fujii news is at the margin having some impact on the yen, but the story is still unfolding," said Gavin Friend, currency strategist at nabCapital.

"Much of the yen's weakness is due to early year positioning on expectations that the yen will not be as strong in 2010 as last year based on the fundamental situation in Japan," he said.

Against the dollar, the euro dipped very slightly to $1.4363 <EUR=> but it was well above an earlier low around $1.4285 as some of the Greece concerns ebbed.

"The fact that the euro has bounced back suggests that there is demand for euros at these low levels, while the market suspects that there will eventually be a solution to the Greece problems - people are just waiting to see what happens," nabCapital's Friend said.

Reacting to Stark's comments, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou repeated that his government did not need outside help because it had announced a range of steps in recent weeks to start reducing the budget deficit.

The dollar index <DXY> was steady at 77.643.


Analysts said the change in Japan's finance minister was unlikely to have much immediate impact on the yen unless it emerged that there were potential divisions within the government on how to bring down Japan's massive debt burden.

"From a forex policy perspective, there is not a great significance in the change from Fujii to Kan, as the perceived change in yen policy was more DPJ-led rather than by any individual," said Derek Halpenny, European head of global currency research at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in London.

But he added: "If markets perceive there is greater disagreement within the DPJ and also of (Japan's ruling party No. 2 Ichiro) Ozawa undermining Hatoyama behind the scenes, it would be negative for Japanese markets generally."

Trading in currencies was cautious, however, ahead of key U.S. jobs data on Friday as investors waited for evidence of how well the U.S. economy is faring.

The payroll data is expected to shape expectations for when the Federal Reserve will start tightening its ultra-loose monetary policy and determine the direction of the dollar.

"I think we'll go into the payrolls data roughly around these levels. After that we could see some big moves," said Antje Praefcke, Commerzbank currency strategist in Frankfurt.

Ahead of that, the market will watch for the U.S. ADP's employment report and the ISM non-manufacturing index for December, along with the minutes from the Fed's last policy meeting, all due later in the day. <ECONUS>

(Additional reporting by Tamawa Desai in London; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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