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FOREX-Yen gains as investors worry about Greece, Ukraine
February 9, 2015 / 1:06 PM / 3 years ago

FOREX-Yen gains as investors worry about Greece, Ukraine

* Yen gains as investors turn risk-averse

* Euro reverses gains on worries about Greece, Ukraine

* Dollar steadies after Friday’s jobs-inspired rally

By Jemima Kelly

LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The yen gained against the dollar and euro on Monday as investors fretted over the conflict in Ukraine as well as Greece’s future in the euro zone.

In his first major speech to Greece’s parliament, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday laid out plans to dismantle the “cruel” austerity programme imposed on it by international lenders. He ruled out any extension of the country’s bailout, setting himself on a collision course with his European partners.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet U.S. President Barack Obama later in the day to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, where nine troops and seven civilians have been killed in the past 24 hours alone.

The yen, seen as a safe haven at times of heightened investor anxiety, gained around half a percent against the dollar to trade at 118.55 yen. It fell 1.4 percent on Friday as the greenback rallied on robust U.S. jobs data.

Against the euro, the yen gained around 0.5 percent to trade at 134 yen, having also been given a boost by strong Japanese consumer sentiment data and by comments from a Bank of Japan policymaker, who said the country would not slip back into deflation.

Jane Foley, a senior currency strategist at Rabobank in London, said it was likely that the Japanese currency was in part being driven higher by small correction in the dollar.

“You could certainly argue that with the Ukrainian situation and the Greek situation, people are unlikely to walk too far away from the yen,” she said. “But then if you argue that, it’s quite difficult to say why dollar/yen went up so much on Friday.”

The dollar index, an indication of the greenback’s performance against a basket of major currencies, edged up 0.2 percent to 94.685, having gained more than 1 percent on Friday after the U.S. employment figures.

The euro gave up earlier gains to trade 0.3 percent down at $1.1279, having already lost more than 1.5 percent against the dollar on Friday.

“The overall picture (for the euro) is still very negative and the position between Greece and the EU doesn’t seem to have improved ... so any rebounds are going to provide a good selling opportunity,” said Ian Stannard, Morgan Stanley’s head of European FX strategy.

Euro zone finance ministers meet at the Eurogroup gathering on Wednesday, at which the Greek finance minister has said he will present a comprehensive proposal. The European Council meeting takes place the following day.

The euro has been volatile this month as hopes that Greece could win swift relief from its creditors alternated with worries a deal cannot be reached, raising the prospect of Greece leaving the euro. (Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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