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Dollar settles in lower 81 yen range after hitting 9-month high.

TOKYO, Feb. 27 Kyodo

The U.S. dollar settled in the lower 81 yen range in Tokyo on Monday after touching a nine-month high, while the euro also stayed firm after climbing to its highest point in around four months amid receding concern over the global economic outlook.

At 5 p.m., the dollar changed hands at 81.10-11 yen, versus 81.16-26 yen in New York and 80.56-57 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Friday. It rose to as high as 81.66 yen in early Asian trading, a level not seen since late May.

The dollar fell to as low as 80.95 yen during the day, changing hands most frequently at 81.15 yen.

The euro traded at $1.3458-3459 and 109.15-19 yen, against $1.3442-3452 and 109.17-27 yen in New York and $1.3374-3375 and 107.74-78 yen in Tokyo late Friday afternoon.

Supported by robust demand from Japanese importers and raised hopes for a U.S. economic recovery in light of a string of encouraging economic data, the dollar mostly hovered in the lower to mid 81 yen range in Tokyo during the day, dealers said. Its upside, however, was curbed by yen-buying by Japanese exporters and market players seeking to lock in recent gains.

Traders and analysts were split over whether the depreciation of the yen in recent weeks is likely to continue.

Etsuko Yamashita, chief economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., said the dollar may rise above the 82 yen line within the week and there ''will likely be further selling of the yen given its recent sharp decline.''

On the other hand, Norihiro Tsuruta, chief strategist at Mizuho Securities Research & Consulting Co., said market signals are showing the dollar-yen uptrend may be nearing its peak.

''I think it's about time to test the downside,'' Tsuruta said.

The yen, which has been on the retreat since the announcement of monetary easing by the Bank of Japan on Feb. 14, has lost around 5 yen against the dollar since the beginning of this month.

Selling pressure also came as risk appetite for higher-yielding currencies improved further following last week's upbeat U.S. housing and consumer sentiment data and easing uncertainties over the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, the dealers said.

The euro advanced to around 109.95 yen in the early morning, its highest level against the Japanese currency in almost four months, before slipping back to the lower 109 range on yen-buying by Japanese exporters. Against the dollar, the single European currency held steady around the mid-$1.34 level.

Meanwhile, dealers said while the outcome of the Group of 20 leading economies' meeting was mostly within expectations, the market saw a lack of significant progress on efforts to help resolve the eurozone debt crisis as the G-20 members held off from making specific contributions to the International Monetary Fund in their communique.

''I won't go so far as to say the market was disappointed, but I think attention has now shifted to the summit of European Union leaders later this week to see if there will be more substantial action,'' Sumitomo Mitsui's Yamashita said.

Market participants will also be closely watching the outcome of the European Central Bank's second long-term refinancing operation scheduled Wednesday to bolster the banking system, dealers said. The previous operation in December was considered a success.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Feb 27, 2012
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