FOREX-Yen up broadly on safe-haven flows as China equities slump on property curbs

Sun Mar 3, 2013 11:08pm EST

Related Topics

* Yen gains broadly as Beijing's property curbs spook China markets

* Euro dips vs dlr, not far from Friday's 2-1/2 month low

* Single currency hampered by weak euro zone data

* Yen reaction to BOJ Gov nominee Kuroda comments limited so far

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE, March 4 (Reuters) - The yen rose broadly as a sharp fall in Chinese equities on Beijing's decision to hit the mainland property sector with strong curbs prompted investors to buy the safe-haven Japanese currency, traders said.

China's Shanghai Composite index tumbled 2.9 percent after Beijing announced more property market tightening measures on Friday in a bid to contain housing costs.

The dollar fell 0.4 percent to 93.32 yen. The yen also rose on the crosses, with the Australian dollar sliding 0.7 percent to 94.76 yen.

Last week's China manufacturing data "were worse than expected and the latest move on the property sector deepens uncertainty about how funds would flow within the Chinese economy," said Chiyuki Shiraiwa, economist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Investors generally seek shelter in the safe-haven Japanese currency during times of market uncertainty or risk aversion.

The yen showed limited reaction to comments from Haruhiko Kuroda, the Japanese government's nominee as the next Bank of Japan governor.

Huge purchases of longer-dated Japanese government bonds is a natural way to ease monetary policy, but central bankers must monitor the side-effects, Kuroda said on Monday during a confirmation hearing in parliament.

Kuroda's remarks contained few surprises, said a trader for a Japanese bank in Bangkok.

"The comments that have come out today are in line with expectations and have not triggered renewed selling of the yen. They didn't contain any big disappointments either," the trader said.

Kuroda, president of the Asian Development Bank and an advocate of aggressive monetary easing, would replace incumbent Masaaki Shirakawa, who is due to leave office on March 19.

Parliament is expected to approve Kuroda's nomination and market players are expecting the Bank of Japan to unveil fresh monetary easing steps in April, either at a policy meeting on April 3-4, or the following one on April 26.

EURO REMAINS UNDER PRESSURE

The euro hovered near a 2-1/2 month low while the dollar stayed close to a six-month high versus a basket of currencies as signs of improvement in the U.S. economy stood in stark contrast to a series of weak euro zone data.

Broad U.S. spending cuts that automatically kicked in on Friday and threatens to dampen economic growth did little to curb the dollar, which was supported by data released on Friday that showed a pick-up in U.S. manufacturing activity.

Data out of the euro zone painted a bleak picture, with business surveys released on Friday showing that European manufacturing appeared no closer to recovery in February, while official data showed that unemployment in the currency union hit a new high of 11.9 percent in January.

"The U.S. is not looking particularly good, but in comparison (to the euro zone) it's looking somewhat better," said Rob Ryan, strategist for RBS in Singapore.

The euro slipped 0.1 percent to about $1.3017, not very far from Friday's low of $1.2966 set on trading platform EBS, the single currency's lowest level since Dec. 11 and its weakest in more than 2-1/2 months.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback's value against a basket of major currencies, stood at 82.285, having hit a high of 82.509 on Friday, its strongest level in more than six months.

"A recent characteristic of the euro is that it seems to be increasingly traded on the back of fundamental economic data such as the unemployment rate, production, and GDP figures," said Daisuke Karakama, market economist for Mizuho Corporate Bank in Tokyo.

The single currency has retreated over the past month since hitting a high of $1.3711 on Feb. 1, and has come under added pressure after an inconclusive election in Italy in late February raised the risk of prolonged political instability in the euro zone's third biggest economy.

The single currency now looks vulnerable on the daily Ichimoku chart, a popular technical analysis tool. The euro fell below the bottom of the daily Ichimoku cloud at $1.3085 and closed below that level on Friday, in a bearish technical signal.

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