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Wednesday November 12, 2014 - 00:03:06 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Yen undermined by Japan election talk, dollar choppy

6:29pm EST

* Yen stays on the backfoot on talk of early election

* Sankei says election in December, delay in sales tax hike

* Dollar choppy in thin trade, SNB eyed as Swiss franc nears 1.20

By Ian Chua

SYDNEY, Nov 12 (Reuters) - The yen flirted with a seven-year low against the dollar early on Wednesday on reports that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will call a general election in December, offering investors a further excuse to shun the currency.

The Sankei newspaper, citing unnamed government and coalition officials, said Abe will also delay a planned second sales tax increase by a year and a half and take the issue to voters. Abe on Tuesday said he had yet to decide on the timing of an election.

The dollar last traded at 115.80 yen after rising as far as 116.11 in New York - a high not seen since October 2007. The Australian dollar popped back above 100.00 yen for the first time since May 2013.

Investors had already been selling the yen after the Bank of Japan shocked markets last month by expanding its massive stimulus spending to help reinvigorate an economy that has lost momentum after a sales tax hike in April. Now, Abe appeared likely to delay the second tax increase.

"If it were to happen, that decision would be justifiably JPY negative, to the extent that it would further deteriorate an already ugly fiscal picture," said Raiko Shareef, currency strategist at the Bank of New Zealand.

While it has been pretty much a one-way bet for the yen, the path for the greenback has become less clear especially after Friday's solid non-farm payrolls failed to inspire more buying.

It swung lower against most of its peers overnight, reversing Monday's gains. Traders pointed to thin market conditions, due to the Veterans Day holiday, as a reason for some of the choppy action.

The dollar index dipped to 87.593, from 88.061, although it remained near a four-year peak of 88.190 hit last Friday. The euro rose to $1.2477, from $1.2394.

Commodity currencies also gained on the greenback with the Australian dollar climbing to a near one-week high of $0.8720 from $0.8591.

Investors are also keeping a wary eye on the Swiss franc, which raced to a two-year high of 1.2021 francs per euro on Tuesday.

Markets appear to be testing the Swiss National Bank's resolve to defend the 1.20 per euro ceiling ahead of the country's Nov. 30 referendum on whether the central bank should boost its gold reserves.

A 'yes' vote would force the SNB to buy around 70 billion Swiss francs ($73 billion) worth of gold and could limit the bank's capability to maintain the stability of its currency, the central bank chief warned.

Asia has little to offer in terms of market-moving economic data on Wednesday, leaving the focus on the Bank of England's inflation report due later in the day.

The BOE's forecasts are expected to confirm a push back in the expected timing of a first rise in interest rates long into 2015, something that is already broadly priced into UK money markets. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Thomson Reuters 2014. All rights reserved.



 

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