FOREX-Dollar touches 2-month high versus yen in Yellen aftermath

Friday, 15 Nov 2013 | 8:55 AM ET

* Yen slides as dovish Yellen comments boost riskier assets

* Yen hits 2-month low versus dollar

* Yellen suggests U.S. stimulus to remain for now

NEW YORK, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The dollar rose to a two month high against the yen on Friday after Federal Reserve Chair nominee Janet Yellen boosted investor appetite for riskier assets by defending the central bank's current stimulus measures.

Comments widely interpreted as confirming Yellen's dovish stance and showing there would be no reduction of stimulus any time soon sparked a rally on equity markets and dented the low-yielding yen, which typically falls when investors are looking to take on risk.

"The take away from Janet Yellen's comments yesterday was that a Federal Reserve led by her would leave many of the current policies in place, providing very little disruption," said Camilla Sutton, chief FX strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.

The dollar rose 0.2 percent to 100.25 yen, having hit a high of 100.43 yen which left it the potential to target the Sept. 11 high of 100.60 yen.

The yen fell broadly, with sterling hitting a four-year high against the Japanese currency.

"(Yellen's comments) were more in the direction of risk-on," said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX research at Commerzbank in Germany. "Markets can be more sure there will be no tapering in December.

"The additional boost we're seeing in risk appetite is certainly adding to dollar/yen."

On Friday China announced a raft of reform plans, including accelerating capital account convertibility, but for now this had little impact on sentiment.

"The steps will be slow," said Leuchtmann. "We have to see how it works out."

Options markets showed some investors betting on more dollar strength versus the yen in the weeks to come.

However, Yellen's more dovish comments put little downward pressure on the dollar versus currencies which have benefited most from the flood of Fed liquidity in the banking system. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar eased marginally at 80.959.

"The dollar only reacted very moderately as Yellen signalled continuity," said George Saravelos, currency strategist at Deutsche Bank in London.

However, he said the remarks were enough to spark a rally in riskier assets and weigh on the yen.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars, which offer higher yields than many other currencies and often gain when investors' risk appetite increases, both rose. The Australian dollar was up 0.3 percent at $0.9343, while the New Zealand dollar <NZD=D rose 0.5 percent to $0.8316 cents.

The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.3468, below a one-week high of $1.3497 touched on Thursday.

It remains under pressure from the disparity between the U.S. and European economies - underlined by weak euro zone GDP numbers on Thursday which kept alive the possibility of more central bank action to stimulate growth.

The euro rose against the yen, however, hitting a two-week high of 135.08 yen.