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Tuesday March 6, 2007 - 22:10:15 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen tumbles on global equity rebound

FOREX-Yen tumbles on global equity rebound
Tue Mar 6, 2007 4:33pm ET27

(Updates prices, adds comments)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, March 6 (Reuters) - The yen dropped against the dollar for the first time in three days on Tuesday after a rebound in global stocks suggested investors were for now safe borrowing the Japanese currency to fund bets on riskier assets.

Over the past week, a sudden pullback in risk-taking sparked sharp declines in stock prices around the world and a liquidation in carry trade positions, funded in low-yielding yen or Swiss francs.

The magnitude and swiftness of the move, which caused the yen to post its biggest weekly percentage gain against the euro since August 2003 and against the dollar since December 2005, made some believe it had run its course for now.

"We were due for some consolidation," said Bob Houck, a currency dealer with Wells Fargo in Minneapolis. With regard to how far the dollar had fallen against the yen, Houck added: "Just like it was a little overdone on the top side, now it's overdone on the bottom side."

By late afternoon in New York, the euro had risen about 1.2 percent on the day to 153.21 yen , after finding technical support at the 200-day moving average around 151.00 yen.

A week of carry trade unwinding took the euro to a 3-1/2-month low of 150.74 yen earlier on Tuesday, according to electronic trading platform EBS, from its record high near 160 late in February.

The dollar was up 0.9 percent at 116.70 yen . It hit a three-month low of 115.13 on Monday.

Among the biggest movers on the day, sterling/yen and New Zealand dollar/yen -- bellwethers of the carry trade -- surged 1.6 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively, as U.S. stock indexes staged a late-session rally.


Currency dealers said they were reluctant sell off against the yen too sharply until they saw more evidence that last week's shakeout in positions was over.

Indeed, the risk environment was still tenuous. UBS said its gauge of risk aversion was at its highest since May 2006.

"The 'safe-haven' currencies Swiss franc and yen are expected to appreciate should risk aversion continue to rise; 'growth' currencies, particularly the Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar and the U.S. dollar are expected to underperform," the bank said in a note to clients.

Financial market participants have been sensitive to moves in global equity markets and the yen after last week's jarring price action shifted investor comfort with risk.

Meanwhile, U.S. economic data has not been a focus. But that could change if Friday's U.S. employment report contains a surprise that brings the market back to looking at fundamentals -- and the dollar.

"The FX market still has its eyes on the equity market and so far U.S. stocks were not fazed by the weaker data, so the dollar will hang in there for now," said Ron Simpson, director of currency research at Action Economics in Tampa, Florida.

"Everybody is looking ahead to Friday's nonfarm payrolls data, which could be the key event for the dollar."

The euro edged up 0.2 percent to $1.3125 after hitting 2-1/2-week lows on Monday. It has been trading within a narrow range of $1.3070 to $1.3260 since mid-February.

High-yielding currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars gained. The Australian dollar rose 0.4 percent to $0.7737 , while the New Zealand dollar jumped 0.9 percent to $0.6810 .

Several monetary policy meetings are scheduled for later in the week. The European Central Bank is expected to raise rates by 25 basis points to 3.75 percent on Thursday.

Central banks in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Britain, also are scheduled to hold policy meetings.

Earlier in the session, the Bank of Canada left its overnight interest rate at 4.25 percent. The U.S. dollar was down 0.4 percent at C$1.1762 .

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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