* Dollar/yen hits highest since Aug 2010
* Euro/yen touches 17-month high, nears 200-week MA
* Dollar seen in 80-90 yen range in 2013 - JPMorgan
By Lisa Twaronite and Masayuki Kitano
TOKYO/SINGAPORE, Dec 28 The yen fell to its
lowest level in more than two years versus the dollar on Friday,
pressured by expectations that the new Japanese government will
push the Bank of Japan into more aggressive monetary easing.
The dollar's rise against the yen gained further momentum
due to stop-loss buying, which helped lift the greenback to
86.64 yen its strongest level versus the Japanese
currency since August 2010.
"There were a bunch of stops related to option barriers in
very thin conditions this morning, and what seemed to happen was
that they were triggered one after another," said a trader for a
Japanese bank in Singapore.
After trimming some of its gains, the dollar last traded at
86.40 yen, up 0.4 percent from late U.S. trade on Thursday.
The yen also fell against the euro, touching its
lowest level in about 17 months. The euro soared to 114.675 yen,
its strongest level against the yen since July 2011.
The euro last stood at 114.42 yen, with a test of its
200-week moving average at about 115.00 yen in sight.
The yen hit a two-year low versus the dollar for the third
straight day, having come under renewed pressure after Shinzo
Abe took the helm as Japan's prime minister on Wednesday.
Abe has vowed to push through aggressive monetary stimulus
to fight deflation. One of Abe's key advisers told Reuters in an
interview on Thursday that the Bank of Japan needed to set a
higher inflation target, and the government needed to make the
central bank more accountable for its policy objectives.
The dollar is all but certain to end the week above its
200-week moving average, now at roughly 84.95 yen, for the first
time since the week ending Dec. 23, 2007, a technical signal
portending further gains.
"A lot of people are looking for 90 as a reasonable target,"
said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak
& Co in New York.
"The only way we're going to get there is through a sea
change in policy, and this one has some real momentum behind
it," Wilkinson said.
WEAK YEN TREND
The yen has fallen more than 12 percent against the dollar
in 2012, putting it on track for its biggest annual percentage
drop since 2005.
Analysts at JPMorgan are among those who expect the dollar
to head towards 90 yen.
In a research note on Friday, they revised their forecast
for the dollar's range in 2013 to between 80 yen to 90 yen, from
75 yen to 85 yen previously. Their end-2013 forecast for the
dollar was revised to 87 yen, up from 79 yen.
JPMorgan's analysts said the weak yen trend was likely to
continue until Japan's upper house elections in July, adding
that they had underestimated the impact of Japan's trade deficit
on the yen as well as the extent to which overseas investors'
perception of Japanese politics and policies had changed.
"Put simply, what we over-looked was the strength of
market's hunch that 'this time is different' and the rising hope
that Japan's economy and politics were headed towards real
change this time around," the JPMorgan analysts wrote.
"Indeed, the Abe administration has strong incentive to keep
the market hoping for more until the Upper House elections in
July," they said.
In addition, the recent fall in the yen and rally in Japan's
benchmark Nikkei share average could stimulate Japanese
investors' risk appetite and encourage self-sustaining capital
outflows, they added.
The euro held steady against the dollar at $1.3243
with investors waiting to see whether a last-chance round of
U.S. budget talks will achieve a deal to avoid the "fiscal
U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden
will meet congressional leaders from both parties at the White
House on Friday to try to revive negotiations to avoid tax hikes
and spending cuts - together worth $600 billion - due to take
effect from Jan. 1.
Market players have said that the dollar could benefit from
safe-haven buying if no deal is reached by year-end.