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Monday November 13, 2006 - 11:59:23 GMT
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FOREX-Yen under pressure after Nakagawa comments

FOREX-Yen under pressure after Nakagawa comments
Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:35am ET14

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices) By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - The yen fell against the dollar and euro on Monday after the policy chief of Japan's ruling party said he opposed an interest rate hike as Japan was still in deflation.

The dollar remained flat against the euro near last week's 2-1/2 month lows, with residual pressure coming from worries that central banks might gradually shift their foreign exchange reserves away from the greenback.

Shoichi Nakagawa, policy chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told Reuters he opposed a credit tightening by the Bank of Japan, and the impact of a rate hike would be "large".

The BOJ is expected to raise interest rates from the current 0.25 percent before the next fiscal year that starts in April.

Analysts said that while Nakagawa's comments were a catalyst for yen losses, investors were also mindful of downside risks posed by third quarter growth figures from Japan due at 2350 GMT.

"The market has an eye on the potential risk of economic contraction in the third quarter -- we've certainly seen clear evidence across the board of a slowdown in the economy, but most of that from the household spending sector," BTM-UFJ currency economist Derek Halpenny said.

"Ultimately notwithstanding comments from the government calling for caution, the market is reading the data as pinpointing evidence of a slowdown that will make it difficult for the BOJ to move any time soon," he added.

Economists polled by Reuters expect Japan's economy to have grown 0.2 percent in the July-September quarter from the previous quarter, the same pace of growth as in April-June, a Reuters poll showed.

By 1059 GMT, the yen fell to a low of 117.88 per dollar and 151.38 per euro -- near last week's record low of 151.52, according to Reuters data.


The dollar was still pressured overall against the euro on persistent worries, sparked by China, that investors would switch their cash out of the U.S. unit.

China's State Information Centre, a government think tank, said on Monday that China should diversify its $1 trillion foreign exchange reserves -- the world's largest -- by building up strategic reserves of crude oil, metals and bulk commodities.

The report comes after People's Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan last week reiterated that Beijing planned to diversify its reserves, sending the dollar to a 2-1/2-month low versus the euro and an 18-month trough against sterling.

"There has been the shift in focus away from possible upside risks in the U.S., to strong data in Europe and to comments from central bankers, from PBOC and BOJ ... and the dollar has already seen (the end of its strong) performance for now," said Benedikt Germanier, currency strategist at UBS in Zurich

The euro was changing hands at $1.2840 , flat on the day and still near Friday's peak around $1.2900 -- its highest since Aug. 21.

Sterling fell back from levels near last Friday's 18-month high of $1.9180 after British factory gate inflation slowed more than expected in October.

The Australian dollar lost half a percent against the U.S. currency after the Reserve Bank of Australia said the country's severe drought would take a chunk out of economic growth in 2006/07.

Further clues on the likely path of euro zone rates, currently at 3.25 percent, could come from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and other policymakers speaking at a conference in Frankfurt from 1315 GMT on Monday.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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