* Risk aversion rises as financial crisis grips Russia
* Low Treasury yields amid flight to safety sap dollar’s appeal
* Aussie dollar drops to 4-1/2 year low under $0.8200
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The dollar nursed its losses in Asian trading on Wednesday, pulling away from lows hit overnight on skidding oil prices, Russia’s financial crisis, and speculation that the Federal Reserve might take a more cautious tone on monetary policy.
Data released earlier on Wednesday showed Japan’s exports rose 4.9 percent in November, falling short of forecasts despite the weakening yen, which helped the dollar regain some of the ground it lost overnight against its Japanese counterpart. Japan marked its 29th straight month of trade deficits.
“The medium term forecast is still for a higher dollar, but the whole world is chaotic right now, with a slowdown in China, falling oil, and now Russia,” said Kaneo Ogino, director at Global-info Co in Tokyo, a foreign exchange research firm.
“Nobody wants to be too short dollars ahead of the FOMC today, just in case,” he added.
The U.S. Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) concludes its final policy review of 2014 later on Wednesday, and is expected to drop particular words stating its intent to keep rates near zero as a prelude to raising interest rates next year.
“We expect the Fed to drop its ‘considerable time’ guidance in favour of a data-dependent approach. We also expect committee members to raise their growth forecasts and trim forecasts for the unemployment rate and inflation,” strategists at Barclays said in a note.
But with oil prices wallowing at 5-1/2-year lows, the U.S. central bank might hold off on any hints of hawkishness, to the detriment of the greenback.
The rouble last traded at 67.95 to the dollar after dropping as low as 78 on Tuesday. It plunged more than 11 percent against the dollar on Tuesday despite Moscow’s steep hike in interest rates. The steepest intraday fall since Russia’s 1998 currency crisis and debt default sapped investors’ appetite for risk.
Some even warn that President Vladimir Putin faces a full-blown currency crisis that could weaken his iron grip on power.
The safe-haven yen benefited from the flight to safety on Tuesday, strengthening to 115.56 yen against the dollar, its highest since Nov. 17. The dollar last bought 116.93 yen, up 0.5 percent on the day but still far from a seven-year high of 121.86 yen set on Dec. 8.
Keeping investors’ appetite for the dollar in check, the yield on benchmark 10-year notes dropped to 2.057 percent from its U.S. close of 2.071 percent on Tuesday, when it dropped to a two-month low of 2.009 percent.
The euro was down about 0.2 percent at $1.2487 after rising to a three-week high of $1.2570 on Tuesday, bolstered by helped by data that showed euro zone businesses were in slightly better shape in December than expected and better-than-expected German ZEW survey.
Oil prices continued their sharp drop on Wednesday, adding to pressure on commodity currencies. U.S. crude slipped 1.9 percent to $54.87 a barrel after touching its lowest since May 2009 at $53.60 on Tuesday, while Brent shed over 1 percent to $59.31.
That helped push the Australian dollar down 0.9 percent to a 4-1/2-year low of $0.8143, and set it up for a test of its 2010 low of $0.8066. (Editing by Eric Meijer and SImon Cameron-Moore)