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Monday December 15, 2014 - 00:31:48 GMT
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FOREX-Yen gains as Nikkei sags after Japan election

7:16pm EST

* BOJ tankan highlights uneven progress of Japan stimulus

* Oil prices continue to tumble on weak demand outlook

* Data show speculators pared long dollar positions

By Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO, Dec 15 (Reuters) - The yen gained early on Monday after stocks sagged following a big victory for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's coalition in an election on Sunday, while oil prices continued to sink on a weak outlook for global demand.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and junior partner Komeito party were assured of more than the seats required to maintain their two-thirds "super-majority" that smoothes parliamentary business, but record low turnout pointed to broad dissatisfaction with Abe's performance.

Japan's Nikkei stock average was down 1.6 percent in early trade.

Underscoring the uneven recovery brought on by Abe's stimulus policies, the Bank of Japans' closely watched tankan survey showed Japanese big manufacturers' sentiment worsened slightly in the three months to December but corporate spending plans were strong.

In a discouraging sign for commodities currencies, U.S. crude plunged 2.2 percent in early trade to $56.56 a barrel, after skidding 12 percent last week. On Friday, the Paris-based International Energy Agency cut its outlook for demand growth in 2015.

The euro shed 0.4 percent on the day to around 147.32 yen , after dropping as low as 146.86 earlier. Against the greenback, the European unit was down about 0.1 percent at $1.2460.

The dollar slipped 0.5 percent on the day to 118.22 yen , after dropping as low as 117.78, moving back toward a two-week low of 117.44 yen touched last Thursday, and away from a seven-year high of 121.86 yen set one week ago.

"Technically, the dollar has had a strong bull run that has been sustained for several months, and the pullback, thus far, has been quite modest in terms of retracement objectives," Marc Chandler, chief currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York, said in a note.

"While that could speak to the dollar's resilience, it may mean that the correction has more room to run. Market positioning is still very extended, and the technical indicators are consistent with additional near-term dollar losses," Chandler said.

Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on Friday showed that speculators continued to pare net long U.S. dollar position in the latest week through Dec. 9 to the smallest in roughly six weeks. The value of the dollar's net long position slid by more than $5 billion to $42.19 billion, from $47.38 billion the previous week, marking the smallest net long position on the greenback since late October.

Still, it was the tenth straight week in which U.S. dollar long positions totalled at least $40 billion, which suggests overall sentiment on the U.S. currency remains positive.

Investors await the U.S. Federal Reserve's final meeting of 2014 on Tuesday and Wednesday with a statement and forecasts expected Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT), followed by Fed chief Janet Yellen's press conference half an hour later.

Yellen is seen as erring on the side of being too dovish rather than risking a move that comes in too soon and, compounded with the soft data out of the euro zone, Japan and China, adds to the risk of a slowdown in the U.S. economy. Fed funds rate futures show that the market expects a rate hike at some point in the third quarter of next year. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Thomson Reuters 2014. All rights reserved.


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