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Wednesday January 31, 2007 - 11:45:09 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Yen bounces on speculation of G7 yen talks, eyes Fed

FOREX-Yen bounces on speculation of G7 yen talks, eyes Fed
Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:40am ET148

(Updates price, adds quotes, byline)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The yen bounced from this week's four-year low against the dollar and rose versus the euro on Wednesday as expectations grew that Group of Seven finance ministers might raise concerns on the Japanese currency's weakness.

Investors are reluctant to build sizeable positions before a U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate decision and statement due later in the day. The Fed is set to hold rates at 5.25 percent but the statement might reflect recent strong U.S. data.

Speculation on the yen intensified after German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, who will chair the G7 talks, said on Tuesday that Europe's concerns about yen weakness will be raised at next week's meeting.

"(Buying yen) was a sensible reaction (to the comments)," said Simon Derrick, head of currency research at Bank of New York.

"However the main driver of yen weakness has been domestic Japanese investors (buying) overseas and I see nothing in its economy to change that," he said, adding that yield-hungry Japanese investors have been heavily buying overseas bonds over the past year.

By 1125 GMT the dollar was down slightly at 121.49 yen after hitting a four-year high around 122.20 on Monday.

The euro was down a third of a percent at 157.16 yen , pulling further away from the record high of 158.61 hit last week. The euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.2934 .

The Swiss franc, another low-yielding currency, came off an earlier 8-year low against the euro after the leading KOF business indicator was well above forecast.

The euro shrugged off data showing annual euro zone inflation was below forecast at 1.9 percent in January.

Analysts say the risk from the Fed statement, due at 1915 GMT, would be on the upside for the dollar. "We had some numbers... on housing markets that are stronger than expected, which may be reflected in the statement," said Daragh Maher, senior currency strategist at Calyon.

YEN AND G7

The yen has been a major loser among key currencies as the Bank of Japan is expected to raise interest rates only very gradually, encouraging investors to sell the currency in carry trades to invest in higher-yielding currencies.

Soft data this week reinforced doubts whether the BOJ would raise rates next month from 0.25 percent.

But concerns expressed by European policymakers about the yen's weakness before the G7 have prompted some investors to unwind such carry trades.

"The euro/yen is coming off quite a bit. Generally we are just getting a suspicion that something might be said at G7. We had a few comments from Europe," Maher said.

In an interview with the Nikkei financial daily published in Japanese on Wednesday, European Central Bank Governing Council member Christian Noyer said a weak yen would create strains in the global economy in the medium term, but added that the market was likely to correct itself.

Later in the session, the first estimate of fourth-quarter U.S. growth is due, as well as testimony from U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the Treasury's recent foreign exchange report and its strategic economic talks with China at 1500 GMT.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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