* G20 draft communique doesn't criticize Japan on yen fall
* BoJ nominees awaited, less radical Muto seen front runner
* Next up for dollar/yen is 100-110 area -hedge fund manager
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK, Feb 15 The yen fell on Friday after
three days of gains against the U.S. dollar and the euro as a
draft statement from the Group of 20 nations did not single out
Japan for undertaking policies that have weakened its currency.
That was a signal for investors to keep selling the yen,
which has already fallen more than 7 percent this year versus
the dollar following losses of 11.3 percent in 2012.
The yen had gained this week on expectations the G20
countries, which are meeting in Moscow, would echo a statement
made by the Group of Seven this week and censure Japan for the
yen's sliding trend.
"The final communique is not due until Saturday and could
change. But for the time being, euro and yen traders have
responded positively to what appears to be less constraint on
Japan from G20 nations," said Kathy Lien, managing director at
BK Asset Management in New York.
In late afternoon trading, the dollar rose 0.8 percent to
93.58 yen after hitting a one-week low of 92.21. It had
set a 33-month high of 94.42 yen on Monday, and solid chart
support was expected at 92.00.
The dollar has gained 0.9 percent this week versus the yen,
strengthening in 13 of the last 14 weeks.
Although the currency pair's moves could be choppy at these
levels, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst MacNeil Curry said
the bullish trend remains intact, at least on technical charts.
He expects a test of 94.12 yen, 94.80 and 95.00 before a
larger top emerges. However, a break below 92.17 invalidates all
that bullishness, exposing 91.40 and 90.25 yen on the way down.
The yen rose in the overnight session after a Reuters
report, citing sources close to the process, said former top
financial bureaucrat Toshiro Muto was the front runner to become
the next BoJ governor. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his
advisers have cut the field of final candidates to two or three.
Muto is seen as likely to pursue slightly less radical
stimulus measures than some of the other contenders. A decision
could come in the next few days, the sources said.
Stephen Jen, managing partner at hedge fund SLJ Macro
Partners in London, believes that the next step for dollar/yen
is to go even higher, possibly in the 100-110 yen area.
"Japanese policy makers will most likely continue to pursue
Abenomics with aggression, but will try to pacify Japan's G7
partners by toning down their verbal interventions," said Jen.
The euro last traded up 0.6 percent against the yen at
124.84 yen after falling to 122.87, its lowest since
Jan. 30. It hit a 34-month high of around 127.71 last week.
On the week, the euro posted gains of 0.9 percent.
Yen shorts declined further as of Tuesday, data from the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Friday showed, given the
uncertainty about the G20 meeting at that time. But
betting against the yen should pick up again as the G20 decided
not to make a big deal about the currency's weakness.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday said the
United States is acting in line with the position of the G7 by
using domestic policy tools to boost growth and reduce
ECB chief Mario Draghi on Friday also criticized recent
"chatter" on currencies and said the euro's exchange rate was in
line with long-term averages. Like ECB policymaker Jens
Weidmann, who spoke earlier, Draghi resisted pressure from some
euro zone politicians to target the euro's exchange rate on the
ground that it is overvalued.
EURO SLIGHTLY UNDER PRESSURE VS DOLLAR
The euro remained slightly under pressure against the dollar
a day after the release of data showing the euro zone sinking
more deeply into recession than forecast. The grim picture is
likely to keep alive expectations of an ECB interest rate cut.
Euro zone money market rates are also likely to ease in
coming weeks, which should keep the euro well away from its
recent high of $1.3711 struck on Feb. 1.
The euro last traded flat at $1.3363.
The Italian election on Feb. 24 and news on the repayments
by euro zone banks of loans to the ECB would be the key drivers
for the euro in the upcoming week. The expectation is that the
bank repayments would be lower than last month and should slow
the pace of the decline in the ECB's balance sheet. That should
be viewed as euro negative.
U.S. data released on Friday, meanwhile, also helped drive
gains in the dollar versus the yen.
Manufacturing got off to a weak start this year as motor
vehicle production tumbled, but a rebound in factory activity in
New York state this month suggested the decline would be
Consumers were a bit more upbeat early this month even as
they paid more for gasoline and their paychecks were reduced by
higher taxes, other data on Friday showed.