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Friday July 13, 2007 - 10:39:20 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen hits record low vs euro; risk appetite revived

FOREX-Yen hits record low vs euro; risk appetite revived
Fri Jul 13, 2007 6:25AM EDT

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) - The yen hit a record low against the euro on Friday, weighed down by the prospect of Japanese interest rates staying ultra low for some time, leaving the yen as a cheap source of borrowing.

Abating concerns about troubles in the U.S. subprime mortgage market spilling over into slower U.S. economic growth heaped further pressure on the yen, breathing fresh life into flagging risk appetite.

Worries about the U.S. economy were calmed somewhat on Thursday by healthy sales reports from U.S. retail companies, helping the Dow stocks average post its biggest point gain in 5 years and allowing the dollar to recover from record lows against the euro and a 26-year trough versus sterling.

Fresh clues on how consumers in the world's biggest economy are bearing up will come from official retail sales data for June at 1230 GMT and the Reuters/University of Michigan July consumer confidence survey at 1400 GMT.

"The subprime issue is very much perceived as a localised U.S. credit issue at the moment and not something more widespread, which leaves the carry trade theme in place," Credit Suisse FX strategist Martin McMahon said.

"The Bank of Japan has rates at 0.5 percent compared with 5.75 percent in the UK and 5.25 percent in the U.S. and that story of low-yielding yen is not going to go away," he added.

Worries over the subprime mortgage sector, which caters for borrowers with poor credit histories, were put into perspective as Standard & Poor's said on Thursday it had reduced by almost $5 billion its own estimate for subprime securities it is reviewing for ratings cuts.

S&P corrected the volume of residential mortgage-backed securities it placed under review for downgrade on Tuesday to $7.35 billion from $12.1 billion.

But analysts said the issue would continue to nag markets until the full extent of its impact was known.

By 0954 GMT, the dollar stood at 122.29 yen , flat on the day, but well away from a one-month low of 120.96 yen struck earlier in the week.

The euro rose as high as 168.96 yen according to Reuters data -- an all-time high. It edged down a touch to $1.3768 , moving away from Thursday's record peak of $1.3799.

But technical analysts said fresh peaks were likely soon, with $1.3850 seen as the next key level on the way to $1.4000.

Sterling was steady at $2.0314 after striking a 26-year high of $2.0364 the previous session. Japanese financial markets will be closed on Monday for a national holiday.


Traders said rallying stock markets were encouraging investors to replenish some previously trimmed carry positions, in which low-yielding currencies are borrowed to fund purchases of higher-yielding assets.

The Nikkei average (.N225: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 1.4 percent and European stocks firmed after the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) jumped more than 2 percent to a record high on Wall Street overnight.

European stock markets followed the strong lead set in Asia, with the FTEurofirst 300 index up 0.5 percent (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research).

"The U.S. stock market has defied the odds and surged to a new record in a week where concerns over the subprime fallout should have driven it lower," ABN AMRO said in a note to clients.

"There continues to be a surprising ability of global asset prices to rise notwithstanding greater risks to the U.S. and global economic outlook," it added.

UBS said its risk index moved to 0.1 from 0.0, indicating an increase in investors' risk appetite, supportive of carry trades.

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Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.


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