FOREX-Yen nurses losses after drop on Treasury official comment

Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:19pm EST

Related Topics

* Brainard says U.S. supports Japan's efforts to end deflation

* Investors await G20, BOJ meetings this week

By Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The yen wallowed around the previous session's lows in early Asian trading on Tuesday after a U.S. Treasury official voiced support for Japan's efforts to end stubborn deflation.

The dollar was buying 94.25 yen, steady from late North American trade on Monday when it rose as high as 94.465 yen on the EBS trading platform, its highest level since May 2010.

The euro was steady at 126.27 yen after jumping 2 percent against the Japanese unit on Monday, moving toward a 34-month high of 127.71 yen hit on Wednesday last week.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard said the United States supports Japanese efforts to end deflation and re-invigorate growth.

"It's a tacit way of saying, we don't have a problem if the result is a weaker yen," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York.

"I think the yen's weakening is a function of (playing)catch-up," and not Japan resorting to deliberate devaluation of its currency, he said. "It's the market's way of saying, we're convinced there is a movement afoot to reinflate Japan."

The remarks came ahead of a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday and a G20 meeting later in the week, which are likely to focus on whether some countries are deliberately trying to weaken their currencies.

The Group of Seven nations are considering issuing a statement this week reaffirming their commitment to "market determined" exchange rates in response to recent rhetoric about a currency war, two G20 officials said on Monday.

France said on Monday that euro zone finance officials should discuss the rising strength of the euro, but several ministers played down the issue and the G7 was expected to call for "market-determined" exchange rates.

The euro also benefited from comments from European Central Bank council member Jens Weidmann, who said discussions about an overvaluation of the euro are simply a diversion from governments' task of sorting out their economies. He added that a currency policy aimed at weakening the euro would lead to higher inflation.

Against the dollar, the euro was steady from North American levels, buying $1.3406, moving toward a 15-month peak of $1.3711 set on Feb. 1 and away from its Feb. 8 low of $1.3353.

The Bank of Japan will hold its regular policy meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, and is expected to keep monetary policy steady for now.

Still, markets are pricing in more easing to come as the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has kept steady pressure on the central bank to take bold action to achieve its new 2 percent inflation target.

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