Euro slumps after no Greece deal, yen broadly softer

TOKYO Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:23pm IST

TOKYO (Reuters) - The euro slid on Wednesday after Greece's international lenders failed to agree a deal to support the indebted country, while the yen dropped to 7-1/2 month lows against the dollar on speculation of more monetary easing in Japan.

Euro zone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank ended 12-straight hours of talks without agreement on the next tranche of loans to Athens, as they haggled over myriad options on how to reduce the country's debt to a sustainable level.

The euro fell about 0.5 percent to $1.2748, heading towards a two-month low of $1.2661 hit last week and putting its nascent recovery since then at risk.

That low is not far from its levels just before the European Central Bank unveiled its government bond buying scheme in September with an eye on Spain, called Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT).

"The effect of the OMT appears to be wearing thin ... I think the euro zone will eventually release the money given that euro zone finance ministers have already agreed on a two-year extension of the budget target for Greece. But testing further upside seems difficult for the euro," said Minori Uchida, chief FX strategist at the bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

Lenders will now try to hammer out an agreement at another meeting next Monday.

On top of the festering Greek saga, the common currency is also smarting from the specter of recession in the euro zone and uncertainty over Spain, which has not yet requested financial aid and faces a secessionist threat in a regional election on Sunday in Catalonia.

NO BRAKE

On the other hand, the Japanese yen was dented by speculation of more aggressive easing by the Bank of Japan as well as poor Japanese export data.

The dollar rose as high as 81.975 yen, a level not seen since early April, with its advance blocked by selling related to hedging for an options barrier at 82 yen, though a break there should trigger more short-covering.

It last stood at 81.90 yen, a gain of 0.2 percent from late U.S. levels, extending its rally into a sixth day for a total gain of 3.2 percent.

The euro also hit a 6-1/2 month high of 105.065 yen just before the disappointing news out of Brussels knocked the common currency down to 104.47 yen, 0.2 percent below late U.S. levels.

The yen was also undermined by data showing Japan's exports fell more than expected in October, cementing worries the country is in for a recession in the current quarter.

"The data was not just worse than expected but also underscored the poor state of the economy. The yen's downtrend seems pretty solid now," said Katsunori Kitakura, associate general manager of market making at Sumitomo Trust Bank.

Japan's trade deficit also means corporate currency flows now favor the dollar over the yen.

"In the past, Japanese exporters' yen-buying would have stemmed any sharp fall in the yen. But Japan is now running a trade deficit, and it's as if there's no brake to use when the yen falls," said Mitsubishi Bank's Uchida.

The yen has been falling sharply since Prime Minister Yoshihko Noda called an election on December 16 and the main opposition leader, a front-runner to become the next premier, is pushing the Bank of Japan for more aggressive monetary stimulus.

Shinzo Abe, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, has put monetary policy at the center of debate ahead of the election, calling for "unlimited easing", pushing rates below zero, directly underwriting bonds issued to fund public works, and setting an inflation target as high as 3 percent.

While sentiment over the yen is weak, oscillators such as the relative strength index are showing signs the yen may be oversold in the short-term and some analysts say the latest bout of yen weakness may be coming to an end soon.

"Abe now has few other things left to say about monetary policy. It's about the time the power of his magic runs out," said Daisuke Uno, chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, adding that the yen's slide will likely have run its course by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Joseph Radford)

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