* Yen steady at lofty levels as Western powers denounce
Crimea referendum outcome
* China's move to widen trading band seen as largely
* IMM data shows dollar-long bets pared for fifth straight
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, March 17 The yen began the week at the
top of its recent range on Monday as global markets were on edge
after Crimean citizens voted to be annexed by Russia, prompting
risk-wary investors to seek traditional safe-haven bets.
Over 90 percent of Crimean voters chose to break with
Ukraine and join Russia on Sunday, an outcome that was denounced
by Western powers and leaders in Kiev as a sham.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington rejected the
results of the referendum and warned that the United States
stood ready to impose sanctions on Moscow.
A record drop in U.S. Treasuries holdings by foreign
governments with the Federal Reserve led some to speculate that
Russia has been reducing its dollar reserves ahead of possible
sanctions from the West.
Asian investors were also considering the implications of
Beijing's announcement on Saturday that it will double the daily
trading range for its yuan.
"The majority view seems to be that this will be negative
for CNY because the Chinese economy now needs the depreciation,"
Steven Englander, global head of G10 FX strategy at CitiFX said
in a note to clients.
The move is largely seen as U.S. dollar-positive, but
Englander believes China was unlikely to allow big moves within
the wider band just yet.
"Chinese policymakers will not want the widening to be
accompanied by a sharp move to the weak CNY side of the band.
They will want the move to be seen as confidence that they have
economic and financial conditions under control," he said.
The dollar was steady on the day at 101.31 yen, while
the common currency edged down to 140.97 yen.
Against the greenback, the euro slipped slightly to $1.3908
, but still not far from a 2-1/2-year high around $1.3967
touched on Thursday before European Central Bank President Mario
Draghi knocked it lower when he voiced concerns about its
The latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading
Commission released on Friday showed that speculators pared
bullish bets on the U.S. dollar for a fifth straight week
through March 11, with net longs falling to their lowest in more
than four months.
Overall, though, investors have maintained net long
positions on the dollar for 19 consecutive weeks. The last time
speculators were short the greenback was in late October 2013.
Short yen positions rose to a two-month high, said Marc
Chandler, chief global currency strategist at Brown Brothers
"The yen strengthened after the reporting period and while
some talked about it as safe haven buying, we suspect it was
more about short-covering," Chandler said in a research note.