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Tuesday September 5, 2006 - 10:31:07 GMT
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FOREX-Yen extends advance vs dlr, euro; BOJ in focus

FOREX-Yen extends advance vs dlr, euro; BOJ in focus
Tue Sep 5, 2006 5:12am ET168

(Changes dateline, byline, adds quotes, comments)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - The yen extended gains to hit a two-week high against the dollar on Tuesday, due to further bouts of short-covering ahead of a Bank of Japan policy meeting later this week.

The dollar was on firmer ground against the euro, but the single currency was broadly unmoved by data showing that the euro area's service sector growth had slowed.

Dealers started unwinding extreme short yen positions after data showing a rise in Japanese capital spending on Monday rekindled speculation that the central bank might raise rates this year despite a run of soft economic data last month.

Mellon Bank head of foreign exchange research Ian Gunner said while the market was not about to give up on a weaker yen scenario, the Japanese currency's positional adjustment would probably continue towards the end of this week.

"Over the past couple of weeks the market has appreciated that yen positioning had been getting pretty high," Gunner said.

"We're now down to the next big area (in euro/yen) which runs from 148.10 to around 148.50 yen. The key thing today is whether the introduction of the north American market (after a public holiday on Monday) is enough to push it back below that support," he added.

Net short positions in the yen jumped to a record last week, helping to push it to its lowest ever against the euro and a six-week trough versus the dollar .

The dollar stood at 115.68 yen by 0843 GMT, down around 0.28 percent on the day after hitting a two-week low around 115.58 yen. The U.S. currency fell around 1 percent on Monday.

Some Asia-based dealers said gains may be capped at around 115 yen per dollar, where Japanese importers were waiting to buy the U.S. currency.

The euro was 0.6 percent down on the day at 148.45 yen , pulling further away from a record high of 150.78 yen hit last week, according to Reuters data.

This dragged other currencies lower, including sterling , Swiss franc and the Australian and Canadian dollars.

The New Zealand dollar was the day's worst performer, also extending losses against the U.S. and Australian dollars.


The single currency was down 0.3 percent against the dollar at $1.2835 .

It was little changed after euro zone service sector data showed growth cooled more than expected last month to its weakest pace since January after hitting a six-year peak in June, while price rises persisted.

The business activity index from the poll of 2,000 companies eased to 57.1 from 57.9 in July, against economists' expectations of 57.6, but remained above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction.

Analysts said the data would not shake expectations for the European Central Bank to continue raising rates from the current 3 percent, with the next rate hike expected in October.


Analysts said attention was likely to focus on a news conference by BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui on Friday following a two-day policy meeting, at which the central bank is widely expected to keep rates unchanged at 0.25 percent.

Traders are waiting to hear what Fukui will say about the economy, given that a smaller-than-expected rise in consumer prices and weak industrial production data had dampened expectations of another rate rise this year.

Anticipation is running particularly high after Monday's capital spending data suggested that a rate rise before December may still be on the cards.

"The market had been betting on the possibility that the BOJ wouldn't raise rates this year, but that view is starting to change," said Takehiko Jimbo, forex manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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