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Tuesday August 24, 2010 - 09:46:44 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS - Yen hits 15-yr high vs dlr as Japan ponders move

5:23am EDT

* Yen rises broadly as market bets on intervention

* Stop losses in euro hit around 107 yen

* Noda says no comments on currency intervention

(adds fresh quotes)

By Anirban Nag

LONDON, Aug 24 (Reuters) - The yen struck a 15-year high against the dollar and a nine-year peak against the euro on Tuesday as investors and speculators tested the resolve of Japanese authorities to stem the yen's steady rise.

The yen rise accelerated as stop-loss sales were triggered in the euro/yen pair at around 107 yen while traders cited macro hedge-fund selling in the euro against the dollar.

Falls in shares helped buoy the yen on the crosses while narrowing differentials between U.S. Treasuries and Japanese government bond yields dragged the dollar down against the yen.

Despite Tuesday's gains, Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda declined to comment on the chance of currency intervention. He said recent currency moves were one-sided and that disorderly moves could be harmful to the stability of the economy and the financial system. [nTKX006945]

Traders took those comments as a sign the authorities were not yet ready to step in to curb yen strength.

"Unless the Japanese step in with something more definitive, we will see speculative accounts drive the dollar/yen down to 80 yen," said Paul Robson, RBS Global Banking currency strategist.

"The 85 yen level was pretty important and now with that gone, dollar/yen falling to 80 is a real possibility. That will hurt the Japanese economy pretty hard, unless they do something more on the fiscal side or resort to more quantitative easing."

The greenback struck a 15-year low of 84.34 yen on EBS, before inching up to 84.48 yen by 0900 GMT, still 0.7 percent lower for the day. The pair's strong correlation with spreads between two-year U.S. and Japanese government bond yields has helped push the yen higher against the dollar.

"That correlation is pretty strong at some 95 percent and the market knows full well that the options in front of the Japanese authorities are pretty limited," said Neil Mellor, currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon.

"Any intervention will have limited shelf life, so now the Bank of Japan has to formulate policies which can undermine the yen's strength. This will not be easy and we could still be headed towards the 105 yen mark for euro/yen."

The euro fell to around 106.14 yen EURJPY=R, its lowest since November 2001, having dropped past support at around 107.27 yen, the low hit in June.

The euro EUR= also fell to a six-week low against the dollar of $1.2607 on trading platform EBS. Bears are targeting $1.2605, the 50 percent retracement of the euro's rise from a four-year low of $1.1876 in June to its August peak of $1.3334.

A break there would open the way to at least $1.2522 and then $1.2479, daily lows from July. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

PDF on yen strength: r.reuters.com/vaz26n ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

JAPANESE AUTHORITIES

With the yen hitting a nine-year peak against the euro and a 15-year high against the dollar, traders said the chances of fresh measures by Japanese authorities in the coming weeks to stem the yen's rise had increased.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa discussed the yen by phone on Monday and agreed to work closely. However, Kan did not ask the central bank to ease monetary policy further, and the two did not touch on currency intervention either. [ID:nTOE67M02F]

Market players say the most likely response may be for the BOJ to increase the size or extend the duration of its three-month fixed rate fund supply operation.

But traders were still sceptical the authorities would resort to yen-selling intervention unless the currency's rise picks up more speed.

"Japanese policymakers will be desperate to prevent a break in dollar/yen down to 80 but that looks the trend," Chris Turner, head of fx strategy at ING said in a note.

(Editing by Nigel Stephenson)

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