* Yen off highs vs USD, euro
* Risk sentiment bruised by Apple results, shares slide 10
* CAD under pressure as BOC pushes back rate hike timing
* Japanese trade data, HSBC's China PMI in focus
By Ian Chua
SYDNEY, Jan 24 The yen's rebound came to an
abrupt halt on Thursday with investors wary about cutting
bearish bets further amid expectations the Bank of Japan will
come under renewed pressure to ease policy.
Risk sentiment took something of a hit early when Apple
disappointed the Street, sending its shares down 10
percent and hurting stock futures. High beta currencies
such as the Australian dollar ticked down on the news, though
the impact across the forex market was limited as yet.
Markets are now waiting for fresh cues including Japan's
trade numbers for December due at 2350 GMT and HSBC's flash
report on China's manufacturing sector at 0145 GMT.
For its part, the U.S. dollar did climb back to 88.58 yen
from a one-week trough of 88.06. On Monday, the greenback
rose to a 2-1/2 year high of 90.25.
In a similar move, the euro was back near 118.00 yen
, having slid to a one-week low of 117.06. It was
still within reach of a 20-month high of 120.73.
Investors had reduced short yen positions earlier this week
after the BOJ was deemed to have disappointed by not immediately
upsizing its asset-purchasing programme. This was despite the
BOJ delivering its boldest policy yet to snap the economy out of
years of stagnation.
But yen bears have not given up, suspecting that retiring
BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa will soon be replaced with a much
more dovish governor, who could then bring forward any easing.
So far the yen's rebound has proved shallow and while some
traders expect the correction may not be over yet, most are of
the view that dollar/yen will continue to climb over time.
"Dollar/yen looks vulnerable in the short-term, although its
longer-term outlook is still for an attack on 100 over the
coming year," said Steven Barrow, an analyst at Standard Bank.
With the yen taking centre stage this week, the other
currencies were mostly sidelined. The euro appeared to have
carved out a slim $1.3250/1.3400 trading range since its last
burst higher on Jan. 10. It last stood at $1.3315.
Traders, though, expect the euro can still outperform the
dollar given the European Central Bank's more upbeat outlook for
the euro zone compared with the Federal Reserve's cautious view
on the U.S. economy.
ECB President Mario Draghi on Tuesday underscored that
optimism, saying the euro zone can begin 2013 with more
confidence than last year. But he warned it was up to
governments to carry the bloc forward with reforms.
Among commodity currencies, the major mover was the Canadian
dollar which slumped after the Bank of Canada pushed back the
timing of any interest rate hike due in part to excess capacity
in the economy and soft inflation.
That saw the U.S. dollar rise to a two-month high of
C$1.0005. It was last at C$0.9995. The Aussie strongly
outperformed its Canadian counterpart, scaling a 5-1/2 month
high of C$1.0547. The New Zealand dollar surged to
its highest since 2007.
"We see further upside risks for AUD/CAD above $1.0600 and
NZD/CAD above $0.8400. At the same time, our preference is to
sell USD/CAD on rallies above parity, with $1.0050 the first
notable resistance level," said Vassili Serebriakov, strategist
at BNP Paribas.
Generally, demand for risk assets should stay buoyant with
Europe looking better and the immediate threat of the U.S.
government reaching its debt ceiling removed for now.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a Republican plan
to allow the federal government to keep borrowing money through
mid-May, clearing it for fast enactment after the top Senate
Democrat and White House endorsed it.