FOREX-Yen intervention risk builds before US jobs data
* Dollar/yen near 3-month lows of 76.027 yen * US jobs data may trigger a move towards record low of 75.31 * Japanese prepared to intervene to weaken yen * Euro steady as market waits for Greek debt swap deal By Neal Armstrong LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered near three-month lows versus the yen on Friday, with the risk of a move towards record lows mounting before U.S. jobs data, keeping alive the threat of official intervention to weaken the Japanese currency. Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said on Friday that speculative yen buying had gathered pace since last week and repeated that he was ready to act decisively to counter "one-sided" moves. The dollar bought 76.23 yen, not far off this week's three-month low of 76.027. It was moving in a tight range, but remains within easy reach of a record low of 75.31 touched on Oct. 31, when Japan launched a massive round of intervention to weaken the yen. U.S. employment data at 1330 GMT is expected to show the world's biggest economy created 150,000 jobs in January, keeping the unemployment rate steady at 8.5 percent.. Dealers said a strong jobs report would take the pressure off the perceived safe-haven yen, but they added that the dollar was still likely to remain pressured given the Federal Reserve's recent pledge to keep interest rates low until the end of 2014. "Dollar/yen has gone down despite risk going up of late as the pressure has really been on the dollar after the FOMC meeting," said John Hardy, currency strategist at Saxo Bank. "I think the will of the Japanese will be tested in coming days, but we're up against a hard wall with all the determination and the artillery the Japanese have," he added. Testifying before Congress, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday said Europe's financial crisis still threatened the U.S. recovery, and said the central bank would do everything it could to ward off damage. Traders said stop-losses were building below 76.00, which may be triggered in the wake of the U.S. jobs data. "The market has stops all the way down to 74.50 and we would use a potential stop-loss run to build up a fresh long position in the pair," said a spot trader at a European bank. The dollar was down around 0.2 percent versus a currency basket at 78.834 after hitting near 2-month lows on Wednesday. The 100-day moving average was acting as support at 78.701. WAITING FOR A DEAL The euro was up around 0.2 percent at $1.3170 with investors awaiting the outcome of talks between Greece and its private creditors on the so-called private sector involvement deal (PSI). Greek officials have said repeatedly that a deal is around the corner, and European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn reiterated on Thursday that it could be agreed by the end of the week. "In the very short-term people will be reluctant to take positions in the euro as there is a lot of announcement risk surrounding Greece," said Daragh Maher, currency strategist at HSBC. The euro hit a six-week high of $1.3235 last week, stalling ahead of resistance at $1.3244, the 38.2 percent retracement of the euro's fall from October to January. Against the Swiss franc, the euro was flat at 1.2050 francs close to the 1.2000 level the Swiss National Bank has said it would defend at all costs. SNB interim head Thomas Jordan was reported on Thursday as saying the central bank would enforce the minimum Swiss franc exchange rate against the euro "with the utmost determination". China's non-manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 52.9 in January from 56 the month before, prompting traders to lighten positions in riskier currencies. The Australian dollar was steady at $1.0710, off a five-month high of $1.0758 hit on Thursday.
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