* Euro briefly slips to two-week lows at $1.3325
* Yen's downtrend still intact, BOJ in focus this week
* Trading seen choppy with most of Asia shut for holidays
By Ian Chua
SYDNEY, Feb 11 The euro dipped to a two-week low
in Asia on Monday, continuing to pull back from 15-month highs
following what markets perceived as slightly dovish comments
from the European Central Bank and political uncertainty in
Italy and Spain.
The embattled yen has found some support since Japanese
Finance Minister Taro Aso said the currency has weakened more
than intended following its recent eye-watering slide.
But with much of Asia shut for the Lunar New Year holidays,
thin liquidity is likely to make for a very choppy session.
Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are
among the major centres in the region closed on Monday.
The euro briefly plumbed $1.3325 after stop-loss
selling was triggered below $1.3340, traders said. It has since
recovered to $1.3369, little changed from where it closed in New
York on Friday.
Since hitting a 15-month high of $1.3711 on Feb. 1, the
single currency has shed about 2.5 percent. Last week, ECB
President Mario Draghi kept alive expectations of rate cuts
should the euro strengthen further, saying the bank would
monitor the economic impact of a rising currency.
There are also growing worries about Spain as a scandal on
secret cash payments engulfed the prime minister, while
confidence in Italy has been shaken in the run-up to the Feb.
A strong campaign by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
has opened up the race and threatened the prospects of a stable
government emerging after the vote.
"The euro's upside is likely to be limited and short-lived.
Better financial conditions are likely to be offset by rising
political risks, market positioning and a weaker economy. We
expect the euro to be on a declining trend beginning in Q2,"
said Aroop Chatterjee, analyst at Barclays Capital.
Against the yen, the euro traded at 123.57,
holding near Friday's one-week trough around 123.43. The dollar
was at 92.46, having plumbed a near one-week low of 92.17
In the past months, trading in the currency had been an easy
one-way bet as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put intense pressure on
the central bank to take bold action to revive the fragile
But this week is shaping up to be trickier as several event
risks loom, not least the Bank of Japan's policy meeting on
The BOJ is expected to keep monetary policy steady ahead of
the G20 meeting this weekend, particularly given that Japanese
authorities have come under international criticism for allowing
the yen to weaken.
There are also signs that Abe's push for a governor who will
lead a radical policy shake up at the BOJ is meeting resistance
from his own cabinet and financial bureaucrats.
"The upcoming G20 is causing some moderation in verbal
encouragement from Japanese authorities, and the market will
hold back for further signals from the BOJ at the MPC and on BOJ
Governor Shirakawa's replacement," analysts at Deutsche Bank
wrote in a client note.
"That said, we think dips are likely to be shallow, as
laggard buyers will be opportunistic and policymakers will
surely be loathe to surrender a handle in the 90s."
Not to be outdone by the euro and yen, the Australian dollar
also experienced some volatility of its own last week after the
Reserve Bank of Australia left the door open to more interest
rate cuts if needed to boost the economy.
It skidded to a three-month low around $1.0256 on Friday,
before popping back above $1.0300. It was last at $1.0315