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FOREX-Pressure on yen lifts slightly, Aussie eyes GDP

Ian Chua
Tuesday, 3 Dec 2013 | 6:29 PM ET

* Yen bounces broadly, off five-year lows vs euro

* Canadian dollar still shaky as BOC policy meeting looms

* AUD near-term outlook hinges on GDP data due 0030 GMT

SYDNEY, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The yen was squeezed higher across the board early in Asia on Wednesday, enjoying a bit of a reprieve as investors locked in profits ahead of major risk events including U.S. jobs data due later in the week.

The dollar retreated to 102.35 yen from a six-month peak of 103.38 yen, while the euro slipped to 139.11 yen from a five-year high of 140.03.

Against the dollar, the euro was little changed at $1.3589 remaining in a familiar range after recovering almost all of Monday's losses.

Investors have been selling the yen to fund purchases of riskier assets in carry trades, thanks to the Bank of Japan's ultra-loose monetary policy and speculation it may do more.

Yet having climbed 6.6 percent in just six weeks, the dollar had looked overdue for a breather, said dealers. As long as support at 101.90/95 held solid, the dollar's uptrend would likely soon resume.

Some said the short squeeze was spurred by falls in global equities, which lifted demand for the safe-haven yen. But commodity currencies like the Australian dollar, which are usually sold in times of heightened risk aversion, outperformed the U.S. dollar.

That suggested the moves could also be driven by position adjustments as key events such as central bank meetings in Canada, Britain and Europe loomed.

"In the absence of any significant news flows, markets partially reversed some of the price action from yesterday," analysts at JPMorgan said.

While the major central banks are widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged, investors suspect the Bank of Canada will strike a more dovish tone.

As a result, they have been selling the Canadian dollar in the last few days, knocking it to 3-year lows at C$1.0673 per U.S. dollar.

"Anticipation of a more dovish message from the Bank of Canada may have contributed to CAD weakness," analysts at BNP Paribas wrote in a note to clients.

"However, with the Bank having already dropped its tightening bias in October, and Canada Q3 GDP growth of 2.7 percent having significantly beaten the Bank's 1.8 percent projection, further dovish innovations seem unlikely."

Particularly notable was its fall to an eight-year trough against the New Zealand dollar. The kiwi rose as high as C$0.8802, reaching levels not seen since 2005.

The New Zealand currency has been outperforming its dollar-bloc commodity peers as recent upbeat domestic data has cemented expectations the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will be first to hike interest rates next year.

The kiwi has also risen to five-year highs on the Australian dollar, which has been under pressure in part due to persistent jawboning by central bank officials.

On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate steady at a record low 2.5 percent and reiterated that the currency remained "uncomfortably high".

Still, the Aussie could find support if third-quarter growth data due at 0030 GMT surprises on the upside. Analysts polled by Reuters expect the economy expanded by 0.8 percent in the quarter, taking the annual rate to 2.6 percent.

This would see Australia outperform many of its developed peers, although it would still represent below-trend growth.

The Aussie last traded at $0.9131, having advanced 0.4 percent on Tuesday, pulling away from a three-month trough of $0.9055.