FOREX-Dollar leaps to 4-yr high, close to striking 100 yen mark
* Policymakers considered ending bond-buys this year -Fed minutes * Euro briefly supported by talk of Japanese portfolio flows * U.S. stocks trade at highest on record By Julie Haviv NEW YORK, April 10 (Reuters) - The dollar skyrocketed to its latest four-year high against the yen on Wednesday, trading close to the key 100 yen mark after minutes of the Federal Reserve's March meeting raised expectations it will finish its bond-buying spree by the end of the year. The U.S. central bank's stance starkly contrasts with aggressive monetary easing steps from the Bank of Japan, which last week pledged to pump about $1.4 trillion into the economy in less than two years in a bid to beat decades-long deflation. A few Fed policymakers expected to taper the pace of asset purchases by mid-year and end them later this year, while several others expected to slow the pace a bit later and halt the quantitative easing program by year-end, according to the Fed minutes, which were released hours ahead of schedule. "Once again, the minutes have sounded a slightly more hawkish tone and that's really what's benefiting dollar/yen," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington. After breaking technical resistance at 99.73 yen, the 50 percent retracement of the dollar's drop from its June 2007 high of 124.14 yen to a record low of 75.311 yen set in October 2011, the dollar rose to a session high of 99.81 yen, its highest since April 2009. The dollar last traded at 99.70 yen, up 0.7 percent on the day, according to Reuters data. The yen temporarily recouped most losses after BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the bank took all necessary steps for now, but the bounce was short-lived. Kuroda also said the bank was resolved to keep printing money for as long as needed to achieve 2 percent inflation, signaling his readiness to offer further stimulus or maintain an ultra-easy policy beyond two years if meeting the target by then proves difficult. "He is saying 'for now' that tells me he will opt for further easing in the future," said Neil Jones, head of hedge fund FX sales, at Mizuho Corporate Bank in London. Jones said the BOJ's attempt to reach 2 percent inflation would imply dollar/yen trading at 110.00. Traders said hefty options barriers around 100 yen could slow the dollar's rise, but an eventual break above that level looked inevitable. "Around 100, people have a lot of barriers they try to defend by selling. It makes sense we have stalled but we are going to go through that level, it's just a matter of time," said Geoff Kendrick, currency strategist at Nomura. The euro last traded 0.5 percent higher at 130.18 yen , having risen as high as 130.50 yen on Reuters data, the strongest since January 2010. Against the dollar, the euro was at $1.3058, down 0.2 percent on the day, as investors opted to book profits after it earlier hit a one-month peak of $1.3121. In recent days, the euro has been partly supported by market speculation that Japanese investors looking for higher returns may opt for euro zone assets. Expectations of Japanese buying have pushed French, Dutch, Belgian and Austrian bond yields to record lows in the wake of Japan's aggressive monetary-easing policy decision. Chinese import data buoyed the Australian dollar while stock markets around the world rallied with the S&P 500 breaking its previous all-time intraday high set on Oct. 11, 2007. The Dow also yet another intraday milestone, also rising to an all-time high.
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