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Monday March 19, 2007 - 20:16:54 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Yen tumbles amid global equities rebound

FOREX - Yen tumbles amid global equities rebound
Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:09pm ET162

(Updates prices)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - The Japanese yen hit a 2-1/2-week low against the euro and dipped against the dollar on Monday as a rash of corporate merger news bolstered global stock markets, reviving investors' appetite for risk.

The Japanese currency had gained in recent weeks as stock prices fell, which caused investors to shy away from risky carry trades, which are often financed with yen.

Carry trades are dealings involve borrowing yen or Swiss francs at low interest rates to invest in assets and regions offering higher returns -- and often higher risk.

Rising defaults in the U.S. subprime mortgage sector have also dulled risk appetite, but the flurry of corporate deals on Monday that sparked a broad recovery in global equities lured investors back into carry trades.

The high-yield Australian dollar climbed to just shy of its highest level in a decade, while the New Zealand dollar also gained and the Swiss franc weakened.

"Once the equity market begins to rebound, people want to put risk back on," said Andrew Busch, global foreign exchange strategist at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago. "We have seen them buying sterling, the South African rand, New Zealand (dollar) and selling yen."

In early afternoon trading, the euro strengthened 0.45 percent to 156.16 yen after earlier hitting a 2-1/2-week peak at 156.59 yen. The dollar was up 0.6 percent at 117.40 yen .

Analysts said they did not expect the euro to rise higher than 157.50 yen, predicting a 152.50-157.50 range against the Japanese currency in the near term.

The dollar also rose 0.1 percent against the euro, last changing hands at $1.3295 per euro .

The U.S. currency eased a touch after a decline in the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index on Monday, but the move was seen as marginal. For more, see [ID:nN19292695]

On Friday, fears that the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis could hurt the broader economy and prompt the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates sent the dollar to a three-month low against a basket of currencies.

Stephen Jen, currency strategist at Morgan Stanley in London, said solid global growth should prompt investors to continue wading back into riskier trades.

"I think the financial markets have been temporarily out of sync with the real economy," he wrote in a note to clients, adding he expects the dollar to extend gains against the yen.

CHINA SURPRISE

The yen earlier rose after China delivered a surprise interest rate rise designed to trim credit and investment growth in the world's fourth-largest economy. The yen often trades as a proxy for the tightly-controlled Chinese yuan.

The yuan rose briefly to 7.330 to the dollar in early Beijing trade, its highest since it was unpegged from the dollar in July 2005, before retreating to 7.7360.

Analysts said the outcome of upcoming central bank meetings in Japan and the United States were not likely to erode the appeal of carry trades for now. Both the Bank of Japan and the Fed are seen keeping rates unchanged on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The only risk is that we could have the Fed change their language to indicate a balanced approach to monetary policy. That's the biggest risk that's out there," said Busch. (Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani)

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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