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Monday April 23, 2007 - 10:35:33 GMT
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FOREXEWS-S&P upgrade boosts yen in BOJ meeting week

FOREX-S&P upgrade boosts yen in BOJ meeting week
Mon Apr 23, 2007 5:41 AM ET

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - The yen rose broadly on Monday, edging away from a recent record low versus the euro as an upgrade in Japan's sovereign rating prompted investors to buy back the currency ahead of key Japanese data later this week.

The euro eased against the dollar as investors scaled back long positions in the single currency -- which had hit record highs, according to IMM data, on speculative positioning.

Standard & Poor's raised its long-term sovereign rating on Japan to AA from AA-minus. The upgrade comes ahead of a Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting and the central bank's twice-yearly economic outlook report on Friday.

"Were they (the BOJ) to show any confident signs of sustainable uptrends for CPI, the market could potentially start reassessing the outlook for monetary tightening into 2008," said Chris Turner, head of FX strategy at ING.

"(The S&P upgrade) just reminds the market that things have turned around for the better in Japan," he said. By 0930 GMT, the dollar was down 0.25 percent at 118.43 yen . The euro was down 0.4 percent at 160.66 yen , moving further away from the lifetime peak of 162.42.

The euro eased 0.2 percent to $1.3564 , having climbed within half a cent of the 2004 record high of $1.3670 last week.

Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed that net long euro positions edged up to a record 106,770 contracts in the week to April 10, potentially making the pair vulnerable to a correction.


Markets shrugged off the first round of French presidential elections at the weekend, where Conservative Nicholas Sarkozy seized a strong lead over socialist Segolene Royal.

However, analysts said investors may become slightly more cautious about buying euros ahead of the head-to-head final round on May 6.

"There's a fear as we go into the second round we are going to see a more critical view of the strong euro from both candidates. There will be a worry that anti-euro or rather anti-ECB rhetoric might be stepped up," said Nick Parsons, head of market strategy at NAB.

Euro zone policymakers, who wrapped up a meeting in Berlin over the weekend, said the market could get burned by aggressive exchange rate bets. They said Europe did not have a problem with a euro which reflected the region's economic strength but were wary of excessive exchange rate movements.

The market focus is on Germany's Ifo business sentiment survey on Wednesday, which is likely to confirm the region's buoyant outlook and reinforce expectations the European Central Bank would raise interest rates.

The United States also has a slew of data including housing and a preliminary reading of economic growth for the first quarter due this week.

Japanese data due on Friday, including consumer prices, industrial output and jobs, were seen unlikely to change the market's view that the Bank of Japan would keep its overnight call rate at 0.5 percent for now.

"As the market has only priced in about 10 percent probability of a 25 basis points hike by June, risks are that any upside surprises from the BOJ report or economic releases could trigger a push higher in JGB yields and in turn, the yen," JP Morgan said in a note to clients.

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.


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