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Monday March 12, 2007 - 10:38:11 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Yen eases as investors' risk appetite returns

FOREX-Yen eases as investors' risk appetite returns
Mon Mar 12, 2007 5:08am ET14

(Changes dateline, byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - The yen fell against the euro and the dollar on Monday as investors continued to resume yen-funded carry trades which had been unwound during a sharp spike in risk aversion a fortnight ago.

In recent sessions, a recovery in stock markets, a strong U.S. jobs report -- which calmed concerns about a possible sharp slowdown in the world's biggest economy -- and rate hikes in the euro zone and New Zealand shifted market focus back to yield differentials, encouraging investors' risk appetite.

But the U.S. data failed to give the dollar a lasting boost against other major currencies, with most Wall Street dealers still forecasting the next Federal Reserve move will be a rate cut, though probably not until the second half of 2007.

"The U.S. numbers were relatively strong ... This week we can see some more softness (in U.S. data) so we are not out of the woods yet," said Teis Knuthsen, head of FX and Fixed Income Research at Danske Markets in Copenhagen.

"The yen has weakened further this morning, euro/Swiss is essentially back to pre-correction levels. Carry has made a strong comeback over the latter part of last week," he added.

In carry trades, investors borrow low-yielding currencies like the yen or the Swiss franc to fund purchases of higher return assets.

By 0842 GMT the dollar was changing hands at 118.33 yen , near an earlier 1-1/2 week high of 118.51.

The euro gained 0.2 percent to 155.36 yen and also ticked up versus the greenback to $1.3130 .

The European Central Bank raised rates to 3.75 percent last week and signalled it will probably hike again in coming months, though the tone of its statement suggested that rates may be nearing their peak.

ECB Governing Council member Klaus Liebscher was quoted by Bloomberg on Monday as saying that he could imagine raising rates to slow inflation even if that meant curbing economic growth.

RISK AVERSION ABATES

The New Zealand dollar, with the highest interest rates in the industrialised world, climbed 0.6 percent to 82.09 yen and a similar percentage to US$0.6940 .

The Australian dollar, another high yielder, was also firm across the board .

The dollar and the euro have rebounded nearly 3 percent after touching three-month lows against the yen early last week, recovering roughly half their losses from the global sell-off.

Trading was quiet with no major economic reports due for release. Market players are awaiting figures on Tuesday including Germany's ZEW survey of investor sentiment and U.S. retail sales for February.

A third day of solid gains in Asian stocks also prodded investors to move back into riskier assets and trades. European stocks also opened higher, boosted by merger and acquisition activity.

"Having risen to a five year high of 10.4 points last Monday, RBC's risk Aversion Thermometer subsequently collapsed to a near-neutral level of just 2.9 points by the end of the week as equity and FX volatilities in particular plunged," RBC said in a research note.

One-month implied dollar/yen volatility eased to 7.9 percent from a peak of 10.35 percent a week ago.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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