April 26, 2013 / 6:31 AM / in 5 years

FOREX-Dollar falls vs yen after BOJ stands pat, U.S. data in focus

* BOJ stands pat; no fresh impetus for yen-selling

* Dollar/yen resistance at 100 yen still formidable

* Short-term focus on U.S. GDP later on Friday

* Pound near two-month high after UK GDP

By Masayuki Kitano

TOKYO, April 26 (Reuters) - The dollar slid against the yen on Friday, pulling away from a four-year high struck earlier this month, after the Bank of Japan kept policy unchanged and gave the market little impetus to sell the yen anew.

The dollar last fetched 98.70 yen, down 0.6 percent from late U.S. trade on Thursday.

In a unanimous vote, the BOJ maintained its pledge to increase base money, or cash and deposits at the central bank, at an annual pace of 60 trillion yen to 70 trillion yen.

The BOJ had been widely expected to hold from any new monetary easing steps, after having stunned markets only about three weeks ago with its pledge to inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy.

That drastic monetary stimulus on April 4, had triggered a sell-off in the yen, and helped lift the dollar to a four-year high of 99.95 yen on April 11.

“From where the market is now, 100 yen is starting to look a bit far away,” said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.

“The pain for the market is to the downside, that’s the direction that people don’t want to see. While few market players think the dollar will break below 95 yen, it is starting to look a bit heavy,” he said.

The 100 yen threshold has proved to be a formidable resistance level for the dollar in the past couple of weeks, with selling emerging from players hedging their barrier option positions as well as from Japanese exporters when the level was approached.

But some market players think 100 yen will be broken soon, as some of these barrier options are said to be expiring this week, and as selling from Japanese exporters could subside during a string of Japanese holidays next week.

“Some people may try to lift the dollar next week, when the market will likely be thin,” said Bart Wakabayashi, head of forex at State Street.

Others think the dollar’s rally may soon run out of steam, noting that it has failed to break 100 so far despite a surfeit of bullish predictions.

U.S. GDP

With the BOJ’s decision out of the way, the market will be looking to U.S. GDP data later on Friday.

Data on Thursday showing an unexpectedly big slide in U.S. jobless claims alleviated some concerns about a slowdown in the world’s biggest economy.

Still, worries about the U.S. economy’s outlook persist, given recent signals that economic activity softened in March and early April, a phenomenon that economists have dubbed the spring swoon because it has happened during the past two years.

“If we see a weak (GDP) figure at a time when economic data has been weak overall, people might start saying, here we go again,” said a trader for a Japanese bank in Singapore.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.3020, staying above a near-three-week low of $1.2954 hit on Wednesday.

Growing expectations that the European Central Bank may cut rates next month to support the euro zone’s moribund economy have kept a lid on the euro, which has retreated since hitting a high near $1.3200 last week.

The British pound held firm after hitting a two-month high on Thursday on better-than-expected UK growth data. Sterling rose 0.1 percent to $1.5451, near Thursday’s high of $1.5480.

Britain avoided recession in the first quarter, wrong-footing some bearish investors, who had expected a weak number that would push sterling lower. The data watered down expectations that the Bank of England will add to its asset-buying programme to underpin the economy.

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