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Monday April 25, 2005 - 10:33:33 GMT

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Yen hits one-month highs as China talk mounts

The yen hit a one-month high against the dollar and the euro on Monday, gaining ground as speculation intensified that China will soon revalue its yuan currency.

Chinese officials, in a flurry of comments over the weekend, said the country was better prepared to loosen the yuan's tight peg to the dollar though they did not give a time frame to do so.

A revaluation or relaxing of the 8.28 yuan peg to the dollar is widely expected to cause an appreciation of the Chinese currency and spark a broad rally in Asian currencies.

Buying yen has been a popular and easy bet on a near-term move by China, and investors and speculators have snapped up the Japanese currency since U.S. officials stepped up calls last week for China to act on its currency.

The dollar fell to a one-month low of 105.26 yen, according to data from electronic trading platform EBS, before bouncing back to around 105.75 yen by 08h20 GMT, still a quarter-percent lower from late New York levels on Friday.

The euro also lost gained ground against the yen, falling to a one-month low of 137.59 yen.

The euro was over a third of a percent weaker against the dollar at $1.3014.

Dealers said the currency was being weighed down by persistent concerns about the outcome of next month's French referendum on the new EU constitution and a slightly weaker-than-expected reading of a widely tracked German business sentiment index.

The headline index in the Ifo institute's business climate survey index registered a fall to 93.3 in April from 94.0 in March, slightly weaker than expected.

The market is concerned that a French no vote on May 29 could undermine the single currency.

Anticipation that Japanese investors would repatriate cash from some 32 billion euros of government bonds due to be redeemed this week was also supporting the yen against the euro, dealers said.

The dollar fell against the Japanese currency after the deputy chief of China's foreign exchange regulator, Wei Benhua, said on Sunday the country would "positively but prudently" speed up the reform of its currency peg.

Those remarks came after Zhou Xiaochuan, China's top central banker, told Reuters in an interview there were no serious political or technical obstacles to revaluing the yuan, but the timetable for such a change was still under review.

Wei also said there was no schedule for such a move and he would not be in favour of a revaluation through early 2006, prompting some players to buy back the dollar.

Premiums on one-year yuan non-deliverable forwards, derivatives used by foreign exchange investors to bet on a change in the yuan's value hit their highest level in 16 months, factoring in a six percent gain.

Last week Treasury Secretary John Snow said China was "now ready" for a currency move, while Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan  said it was in China's economic interest to move "sooner rather than later".

China has repeatedly said it would not act when revaluation expectations are high and speculators could profit.


EURO/DOLLAR: The euro failed to clear a falling trend line resistance from the middle of March peak Friday, which is now containing on the upside around 1.3100 handle. Below this obstacle a corrective dip to 1.2970/50 is likely on the radar screen. Falling daily oscillators are endorsing the idea of a counter trend correction.  Having said that, weekly closing is positive suggesting more gains are ahead of us once the correction is over.


STERLING/DOLLAR: Cable held the mid-point of a rising channel now holding at 1.9070/60 mark and above this support a rise back to the medium-term falling trend line at 1.9200 is possible. However, declining daily oscillators do not agree with a rise beyond this highlighted resistance for now and favor a dip to 1.9060 during the day. A point worth noting is the solid bullish weekly candlestick pattern, which is not favoring any major set back to the current rising trend.


@15h00GMT: U.S. March Existing Home Sales



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