January 24, 2014 / 1:26 PM / 4 years ago

FOREX-Yen and franc soar on emerging market rout

* Yen breaks past resistance to reach 102 per dollar

* China, emerging market worries spark selloff in risk assets

* Euro helped by inflows, rising c/a surplus

* Aussie dives after official says fall not enough

By Patrick Graham

LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The yen surged and the Swiss franc hit its highest in a month against the euro on Friday as investors sought safe places to stash the stacks of money being pulled out of stocks and several big emerging markets.

Both the dollar and euro fell as much as 1 percent against the yen in a move centred on more worrying signs of a slowdown in China and broad expectations of a tightening of monetary conditions this year by some of the world's biggest central banks.

If analysts are agreed on one thing in a jumbled start to the year for major currency markets, it is that money is set to drain out of emerging economies. In one example of this, investors have bid strongly for a flurry of large bond issues in the euro zone this month.

That goes some way to explaining, along with another poorer batch of U.S. data on Thursday, why the year's other big bet - a stronger dollar against the euro - has not materialised yet.

"European assets have become a sort of safe haven for investors," said Alvin Tan, a currency strategist with French bank Societe-Generale in London. "We've seen Spanish and Portuguese debt being very well-received by the market. What many people also often forget is that Germany has a bigger current account surplus in dollar terms than China."

Data published on Thursday showed the euro zone current account surplus hit a record high in November.

More broadly, the banking and debt crisis that began in 2007 finally appears to be easing in Europe, and this year should see central banks begin to reel in some of the enormous volumes or cash they have pumped into the world economy.

U.S.-based Citibank's head of global G10 FX strategy, Steven Englander, pointed to signs this week of the Swiss National Bank moving to cool the country's housing market and growing expectations of an early rate rise in the UK as hints that this process is accelerating.

Another sign of policymakers switching off the crisis setting was the European Central Bank's announcement that major central banks will discontinue the G7 dollar swap lines that have been in place for most of the past five years.

"The sell-off in high-beta currencies, particularly in emerging markets, is driven by an abrupt change of tone among G10 central banks with respect to liquidity provision," said Englander. "The fear is that the Fed, BoE, and even the BoJ will become less dovish more quickly than had been thought even a few weeks ago."

The dollar reached a five-week low of 102.00 yen and a 2014 low of 0.8905 Swiss francs. The euro held at $1.3690, having jumped 1.1 percent on Thursday, stalling ahead of resistance at $1.37.

The Australian dollar fell to $0.8661 after Reserve Bank of Australia board member Heather Ridout was reported as saying the currency had not fallen enough and that the currency at 80 U.S. cents would be a "fair deal" for the economy.


Sterling has also done well in January, surging to its highest against the dollar in almost three years on Friday on the back of speculation the Bank of England could raise interest rates before the end of the year.

Governor Mark Carney took some of the steam out of that move by playing down the chances of a rise any time soon and warning of the pound's impact on exports.

"It is clear that the bank will want to keep rates as low as it can for as long as it can," said Neil Mellor, strategist with Bank of New York Mellon in London.

"The market is just taking a punt on the UK economy doing even better than we have expected and forcing the BoE's hand."

The pound briefly slipped below $1.65, and the currency was on track for its first daily loss after a five-day winning streak.

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