FOREX-Yen firmer but below 11-week highs as EM tensions cool; Aussie slips

Tue Feb 4, 2014 11:40pm EST

Related Topics

* Yen edges higher but off 11-week highs vs dollar and euro

* Aussie slips, but clings to bulk of previous day's stellar gains

* Kiwi underpinned by solid jobs data

By Ian Chua and Masayuki Kitano

SYDNEY, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The yen edged higher on Wednesday but remained below multi-month highs after emerging markets stabilised, while the Australian dollar took a breather following a powerful rally.

The U.S. dollar eased 0.2 percent to 101.45 yen while the euro sagged 0.3 percent to 137.03 yen.

Still, both the dollar and the euro remained above 11-week lows set on Tuesday, when the dollar hit a low near 100.76 yen and the euro fell to as low as 136.25 yen.

Analysts at BNP Paribas remained cautious about re-entering long dollar/yen positions, instead preferring to wait for further signs of stabilisation in the risk environment.

"Opinions remain divided on whether the Tuesday rally (in riskier assets) is anything more than a dead cat bounce," they wrote in a note to clients.

Emerging market stocks and currencies had gained a reprieve on Tuesday as investors hunted for bargains after a recent selloff, with the Turkish lira jumping about 2 percent.

Against the U.S. dollar, the euro eased 0.1 percent to $1.3511, holding near a two-month low around $1.3477 set on Monday amid caution that the European Central Bank (ECB) could sound more dovish at Thursday's policy review.

With inflation running well below the ECB's target and the spectre of deflation gripping the euro zone, the ECB is under pressure to do more to pep up the block's weak recovery.

The Australian dollar took a breather after a vicious short-covering rally in the previous session.

The Aussie had surged across the board on Tuesday after the Reserve Bank of Australia dropped its bias to cut interest rates and toned down its rhetoric on the currency.

Although factors such as cooling in China's economic growth remain negative for the Aussie dollar, the shift in the RBA's stance is likely to give sellers pause, said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.

"It is starting to look a bit dangerous to just keep selling (the Aussie) on rallies," Okagawa said.

The Australian dollar fell 0.4 percent to $0.8886 after a 2 percent rally. Against the yen, it fell 0.6 percent to 90.14 yen after having surged 2.7 percent on Tuesday in its biggest one-day rise in 10 months.

Traders said the Aussie's close above 89 U.S. cents on Tuesday was encouraging and could fuel a bullish trend reversal that should pave the way for a retest of this year's peak at $0.9087 set on Jan. 13.

However, some analysts expect the Aussie's longer-term downtrend will stay intact.

"We will maintain a long-term bearish outlook for the AUDUSD as the Federal Reserve moves away from its easing cycle," said David Song, currency analyst at DailyFX.

Against its New Zealand peer, the Aussie last fetched NZ$1.0822, after having risen to as high as NZ$1.0948 on Tuesday.

With the Reserve Bank of New Zealand considered all but sure to hike interest rates in March, investors were reluctant to bet against the kiwi dollar.

Cementing the central bank's hawkish stance, data on Wednesday showed solid jobs growth in New Zealand and an increase in the number of people actively looking for work.

The upbeat data sent the kiwi to a one-week high against the U.S. dollar at $0.8259. The kiwi later came off that high and last traded at $0.8207, down 0.4 percent from late U.S. trade on Tuesday.

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