Yen falls vs dollar for 2nd day to near two-week low

Getty Images

The yen slid to a nearly two-week low against the dollar on Tuesday as risk appetite improved for a second straight session, undermining traditional safe havens such as the Japanese currency.

Repeated verbal warnings from Japan over the weekend and on Tuesday saying it was prepared to step in to weaken the currency has also held off investors seeking to buy the yen at the expense of the dollar. The greenback has struggled recently as the Federal Reserve is on track to raise U.S. interest rates gradually.

"Risk appetite is naturally tied to the belief that we're in an ultra-low-yield environment and investment managers can't simply sit here," said Jeremy Cook, chief economist at payments company World First in London.

Barclays: No real sign of turnaround for JPY
Barclays: No real sign of turnaround for JPY

"We have to see a move any time we see the slightest bit of positivity, by grabbing yield in emerging markets currencies, for instance."

Global stock markets were on the upswing overall led by European and Wall Street shares, adding to the positive risk sentiment.

In afternoon trading, the dollar rose 0.8 percent to 109.3 , after hitting a roughly two-week peak. The U.S. currency tumbled to an 18-month low of 105.55 yen last week after the Bank of Japan stood pat on monetary policy.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Monday Tokyo was ready to intervene to weaken the currency if moves were volatile enough to hurt the country's trade and economy. He reiterated that message on Tuesday.

A key economic adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Koichi Hamada, also said on Tuesday Japan would intervene in currency markets if the yen rose to between 90 and 95 per dollar.

"There's definitely the possibility of intervention," said World First's Cook. "But I don't think this will turn the market around. It will be more of a stop-gap measure."

He added that the only thing that could reverse the yen's recent strength is fiscal and monetary policy action and any change could happen as early as June.

Meanwhile, speculators were cutting favorable bets on the yen, having piled into the currency in the past few weeks.

In other currencies, the euro rose 0.6 percent to a near two-week high of 124.24 , pulling away from a three-year trough of 121.48 plumbed late last week.

The was 0.15 percent lower against the dollar at $1.137. The dollar index was at 94.29, having hit its highest in nearly two weeks earlier and extending its rise from a 15-month trough struck on May 3.