FOREX-Dollar holds firm vs yen, clings to post-jobs data gains

Mon May 6, 2013 12:23am EDT

Related Topics

* Dollar hovers near 99 yen, focus on 100 yen resistance

* U.S. jobs data boosts risk sentiment, weighs on yen

* Aussie dollar slips, focus on Tuesday's RBA decision

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE, May 6 (Reuters) - The dollar held firm versus the yen on Monday, clinging to gains made late last week after better-than-expected U.S. jobs data eased concerns about the outlook for the world's largest economy.

U.S. employment rose more than expected in April and hiring was much stronger than previously thought in the prior two months. The jobless rate also fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest since December 2008, data showed on Friday.

The dollar rose 0.1 percent to 99.08 yen, after climbing 1 percent on Friday.

With the better-than-expected U.S. jobs data bolstering risk sentiment, the yen is likely to stay on the defensive, especially on the crosses, said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.

"Rather than dollar strength, the sentiment is more along the lines of going risk-on. It feels like yen-selling with cross/yen pairs leading the way," Okagawa said.

Against this backdrop, the dollar will probably trade roughly between 95 yen to 100 yen in the short term, he added.

The yen had retreated broadly on Friday, with the higher-yielding Australian dollar having surged roughly 1.8 percent versus the Japanese currency.

The BOJ's easing has put renewed focus on the yen as a funding currency for carry trades, in which investors sell low-yielding currencies such as the yen to invest in higher-yielding currencies and assets.

The dollar, which hit a four-year high of 99.95 yen in April after the Bank of Japan unveiled its drastic monetary stimulus, has seen its rally stall in recent weeks after facing stiff resistance near the psychologically important 100 level.

Still, many market players expect the dollar to eventually rise beyond 100 yen, partly on expectations for Japanese investors to step up their overseas investments in search of higher yields.

Volumes are likely to be lighter than usual on Monday, a public holiday in Japan and also a UK market holiday.

AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR

The Australian dollar sagged after data showed a surprise drop in retail sales in March, although retail sales for the first quarter rose by a better-than-expected 2.2 percent quarter-on-quarter.

The Aussie dollar slipped a quarter of a U.S. cent to an intraday low of $1.0270 on the retail sales data. It later trimmed some of its losses and last stood at $1.0283, down 0.3 percent from late U.S. trade on Friday.

The Aussie dollar fell 0.3 percent versus the yen to 101.87 yen, giving back a bit of Friday's hefty gains.

The retail sales data was pretty solid when taking into account the first quarter numbers, said Alvin Pontoh, Asia-Pacific macro strategist for TD Securities in Singapore.

"That suggests that GDP is going to be pretty strong in the first quarter of the year," Pontoh said.

The focus now shifts to the Reserve Bank of Australia's interest rate decision on Tuesday.

Markets are implying a roughly 50-50 chance of a quarter-point rate cut by the RBA. A Reuters poll, however, shows that 18 out of 22 economists see Australia's central bank keeping interest rates unchanged at 3.0 percent.

"We don't think they'll move. We think they'll hold rates at 3 percent," said Pontoh at TD Securities, adding that the Aussie dollar could gain a lift if the RBA were to stand pat.

"If you're looking for a near-term strategy I would go long the Aussie," he added.

Elsewhere, the euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.3122.

The single currency's top side could be limited after the European Central Bank's president, Mario Draghi, said on Thursday that the bank was technically ready for negative deposit rates and noted downside risks to the economy.

A negative deposit rate would penalise banks for hoarding cash and could drive money out of the euro zone.

ECB policymakers, however, played down on Friday prospects of the bank cutting its deposit rate below zero any time soon, saying it was just one of several possible treatments for the sickly euro zone economy.

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