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Friday June 22, 2007 - 09:44:31 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen hits fresh lows as risk appetite maintained

FOREX-Yen hits fresh lows as risk appetite maintained
Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:17 AM ET

(Changes dateline, byline, adds quotes updates prices)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, June 22 (Reuters) - The yen hit a record low versus the euro and a 4-1/2 year trough against the dollar on Friday as investors continued to sell the low-yielding Japanese currency in favour of higher returns.

Carry trades were reflected again in high-yielding currencies, as the New Zealand dollar hit multi-year highs versus the yen and the U.S. dollar with investors testing the resolve of the New Zealand's central bank after its recent efforts to keep the Kiwi's rally in check.

"We've seen dollar/yen break higher as investors look to rate differentials and risk appetite remains strong," said Ian Stannard, currency strategist at BNP Paribas.

Some analysts said the market had been concerned that two hedge funds managed by Bear Stearns were in jeopardy but worries that risk appetite would be hit were eased as the bank reached agreements to avoid forced sales.

"We've seen risk appetite maintained as the market is taking comfort from the bailing out of the (Bear Stearns) hedge funds," BNP Paribas' Stannard said.

"This has fed through to the carry trade being supported and long positions in high yielders being supported," he added.

At 0854 GMT, the euro was up 0.4 percent on the day versus the yen at 166.39, after hitting a lifetime peak earlier at 166.49 according to Reuters data.

The dollar was up 0.25 percent at 124.04 yen -- having hit a 4-1/2 year peak of 124.16.

The euro's early gains versus the dollar were trimmed after Germany's Ifo business climate index for June came in below expectations. It was last up 0.16 percent at $1.3416 .

Analysts said this did not change expectations of at least one more ECB rate hike this year.

"We've had a little bit of a blip, after markets had gotten used to getting strong surveys," said Audrey-Childe Freeman, European economist at CIBC World Markets.

The dollar initially gained after a survey of U.S. Philadelphia-area factory activity posted the strongest growth since April 2005, reinforcing expectations the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates on hold at 5.25 percent.

The Australian dollar rose as high as 105.35 yen , its highest level in 16 years, while the kiwi hit the highest level in 20 years at 94.73 yen .

The kiwi traded around $0.7655 , after it hit a 22-year post-float peak of $0.7663.


The Bank of Japan is expected to boost interest rates by August to a 12-year high of 0.75 percent, but the yen continued to suffer as Japan's interest rates are much lower than those for other major currencies.

The yen could suffer from further losses next week as domestic investors look to buy overseas assets, analysts said.

"A series of investment trust funds for Japanese individual investors is on sale this week as well as next week, and that may push the yen to fall further," said currency strategists at JPMorgan Chase in a note to clients.

JPMorgan Chase estimated the size of yen selling for this week and next could amount to 500 billion yen, or about $4 billion.

Total foreign asset holdings of investment trusts have surged by 5.725 trillion yen in the first five months, or nearly $10 billion each month -- putting constant downward pressure on the yen.

© 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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