* Yen's resilience due to short-covering, not just
* IMM data shows dollar-long bets pared for 5th straight
* China yuan weakens after trading band widened over weekend
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, March 17 The yen lost some ground against
the dollar and euro but remained near the tops of its recent
ranges on Monday as Western countries warned of sanctions on
Russia after Crimea voted to separate from Ukraine.
Over 90 percent of Crimean voters chose in a referendum to
join Russia on Sunday, an outcome that was denounced by leaders
in Western powers and 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.
The dollar and euro hit their respective session highs
shortly after Tokyo's 0100 GMT fixing, with Japanese importers
said to be among buyers, market participants said.
Some also attributed the yen's resilience to short-covering
rather than traditional safe-haven plays.
"Investment managers continue to hold a very short-yen
position, so I think there could possibly be some position
adjustments going on," said Bart Wakabayashi, head of forex at
State Street in Tokyo.
"Obviously, when there's risk, there's an element of
safe-haven flow, but I think there are adjustments going on as
well," he said.
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.
A record drop in foreign governments' holdings of U.S.
Treasuries led some to speculate that Russia has been reducing
its dollar reserves ahead of possible sanctions from the West.
The dollar was last up about 0.2 percent on the day at
101.52 yen, near its session high of 101.57 yen but still
a far cry from a 1-1/2-month high of 103.77 yen hit as recently
as March 7.
The euro was up about 0.1 percent at 141.16 yen
after rising as high as 141.27 yen, but remained well shy of its
March 7 high of 143.79 yen, which was its highest since Jan. 2.
Against the greenback, the euro slipped slightly to $1.3901
. It remained 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 strength.
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 step was viewed as a sign of
confidence that the central bank had successfully fought off a
plague of currency speculators.
The yuan weakened in opening deals on Monday.
"I don't see any major currency flows related to the yuan
today, but people generally see it as a step in the right
direction by Beijing," said a sales trader at a U.S. bank in