June 18, 2013 / 8:17 AM / 6 years ago

REFILE-FOREX-Dollar firms against yen, more gains depend on Fed

* Market nervously awaits Fed clarity on stimulus

* U.S. CPI in focus before Fed’s meeting on Tues-Wed

* Euro hits 4-month high vs dollar before German ZEW

By Anirban Nag

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - The dollar rose on Tuesday, trading above recent two-month lows against the yen, with further gains dependent on U.S. Federal Reserve guidance on its ultra-loose monetary policy.

Speculation Fed chief Ben Bernanke may indicate he could start winding down stimulus has led to a sell-off in global stocks in recent weeks, helping the safe-haven yen to its best weekly gain in nearly four years against the dollar last week.

Bernanke will hold a news conference on Wednesday after the Fed’s two-day policy meeting. Some investors are looking to him to give assurances monetary policy will remain accommodative with little prospect of tightening.

“We are expecting Bernanke to say that Fed tapering will be very much data-dependent and provide more clarity,” said HSBC strategist Daragh Maher. “While this should be generally dollar bullish, if volatility rises it could see dollar/yen lose ground.”

The yen often does well in times of market volatility.

The dollar fetched 95.10 yen, up 0.6 percent, on Japanese importers buying. It stayed below Monday’s high of 95.22 yen, having struck a two-month low of 93.75 on Thursday.

Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called late last year for radical monetary easing to revive the economy, dollar/yen has been driven higher by rises in Japanese share prices.

But worries about a Chinese slowdown and talk of the Fed easing up on stimulus have led to a selloff in stock markets and a sharp rise in volatility, driving investors to the yen.

One-month dollar/yen implied volatility jumped to two-year highs and was last trading at around 15 percent.


In a market preoccupied with the Fed’s policy outlook, U.S. consumer price data due at 1230 GMT is likely to attract some attention as low inflation numbers in recent months have helped the case for maintaining stimulus.

“A softer reading could fan expectations that the Fed will strike a dovish tone, likely bringing down U.S. bond yields and boosting stocks,” said Junya Tanase, chief FX strategist at JPMorgan Chase.

The euro hit a four-month high of $1.3391, with the immediate focus on Germany’s ZEW sentiment survey at 0900 GMT. Forecasts are for an improved reading.

Analysts said evidence of gradual improvement in conditions in the euro zone is likely to help the euro in the near term.

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said on Tuesday the central bank is “ready to act” if need be to aid the euro zone economy, although recent signs of market stabilisation meant policy was proving to be effective.

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