FOREX-Yen falls as Japan opposition leader calls for BOJ easing

Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:36am GMT

* Japan LDP's Abe reiterates calls for more BOJ easing

* Abe's opposition party leads in polls ahead of Dec vote

* Dollar hits 6-1/2 month high versus yen

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The yen hit a 6-1/2 month low against the dollar on Thursday after the head of Japan's main opposition party, who is the frontrunner in next month's election, called for bold monetary easing by the Bank of Japan to support growth.

Shinzo Abe, the head of the Liberal Democratic Party, said he wants the BOJ to set interest rates at zero or below zero to enhance lending.

In addition, Abe said he wants to work with the BOJ to reverse the trend of a stronger yen as it hurts the competitiveness of small firms.

Abe's party leads in opinion polls, putting him in a pivotal position to become the next premier after a general election to be held next month.

The dollar rose to as high as 80.83 yen on trading platform EBS, its highest level since late April, and last traded at 80.78 yen, up 0.7 percent from late U.S. trade on Wednesday.

The yen came under renewed pressure due to Abe's latest comments, said Jesper Bargmann, Asia head of G11 spot FX for RBS in Singapore.

Still, while the dollar seems likely to find good support at levels near 79 yen, it is unclear whether the greenback is ready to see a sustained push higher against the yen at this juncture, he said.

"I'm not convinced yet. A sustained move higher in the dollar may have to be on the back of a move higher in U.S. yields," Bargmann said.

The euro climbed 0.7 percent against the yen to 102.90 yen .

Against the dollar, the euro held steady at $1.2738, having rebounded from Tuesday's two-month low of $1.2661, where it found some technical support, including its 90-day average and the Ichimoku cloud bottom.