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Thursday March 8, 2007 - 11:41:42 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS-Easing risk aversion knocks yen; c.banks in focus

FOREX-Easing risk aversion knocks yen; c.banks in focus
Thu Mar 8, 2007 6:22am ET30

(changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - The yen fell sharply on Thursday, giving up initial gains against the dollar as investors tentatively took a more benign stance on risk, after over a week of trying to curb exposure to yield-dependent carry trades.

A slightly more stable environment was also seen leaving participants with the freedom to concentrate on rate decisions from the Bank of England at 1200 GMT and the European Central Bank at 1245 GMT.

A near 2 percent climb in the Nikkei stocks average <.N225> and a firm start for European shares were supportive factors in making investors slightly more comfortable with borrowing the low-yielding yen to fund purchases of higher-return assets.

The yen had surged in the past week as doubts about the U.S. economy and a broad equities sell-off triggered heavy unwinding of carry trades in a bid to limit exposure to riskier positions.

"We are back in stable markets and this is giving the high yielders the possibility to find some support again, there is a bit of risk appetite back in the market," said Niels From, currency strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in Frankfurt.

"The focus is moving a bit back to the ECB and to some extent on the BoE and also on the non-farm payrolls tomorrow."

However From cautioned that this may not be the end of the markets correction yet, as previous equity sell offs have tended to be longer-lived and double-bottomed.

By 1044 GMT the dollar was up more than one percent on the day at 117.25 yen , pulling further away from a three-month low hit earlier this week, but still far below a four-year high of 122.19 yen struck in January.

The euro was up 0.7 percent at 154.05 , while it fell 0.2 percent against the dollar to $1.3147. The single currency was broadly unmoved by stronger than expected German industrial output data.

The yen fell across the board, with the New Zealand dollar gaining 1.5 percent on the day , aided by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand lifting rates to 7.5 percent as expected. Sterling gained half a percent to 225.53 yen .

CENTRAL BANK BONANZA

Markets have factored in a 25 basis point rate rise by the ECB to a 5-1/2-year high of 3.75 percent.

Investors will pay close attention to comments by ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet at 1330 GMT for clues about future monetary policy. A Reuters last week gave a 75 percent chance that rates would reach 4 percent or more this year.

Analysts say the key will be whether Trichet still says that policy remains "accommodative". If he does, markets will start thinking about another rate hike in coming months. If he does not, the euro is likely to take a hit.

The BoE is also set to announce its policy decision on Thursday, with most analysts expecting the bank to leave rates unchanged at 5.25 percent.

"Latest data price a 20 percent probability of a sterling rate hike. However, as the capital market storm has eased, strong economic conditions, tightening labour markets and still booming housing prices will move back to centre stage of the monetary policy discussion. Hence, the risk of a MPC rate hike might be undervalued and if delivered will catch markets by surprise," BNP Paribas said in a client note.

Further ahead, investors are awaiting a U.S. payrolls report on Friday, with any weakness in the data seen stoking expectations for the Fed to cut interest rates later this year, which analysts said may spark dollar selling against the yen.

A Reuters poll shows expectations for the addition of 100,000 new jobs in February, while other data has raised speculation that the figure could be weaker.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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  • POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: HIGH Tue-- 08:30 GMT GB- CPI top tier confirmation of Inflation.

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