Dollar Hits One-Month Low Amid US Jobs Data

The dollar hit a one-month low versus the yen on Monday, extending losses after last week’s lower-than-expected U.S. jobs figures bolstered views the Federal Reserve could yet adopt more monetary easing to support the economy.

U.S. job growth slowed to 120,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, the smallest increase since October.

Traders said a retreat in equities helped prop up the yen, a safe-haven currency that tends to rise in times of market stress.

The greenback could drop to around 80.00 yen in the next week or two, especially when taking into account current market positioning, said Daisuke Karakama, a market economist for Mizuho Corporate Bank in Tokyo.

“When you look at short positions in the yen, they haven’t really decreased, and their size is still comparable to levels seen back in the summer of 2007,” Karakama said.

“You have to think about whether that is sustainable or not,” he added.

The dollar fell as low as 81.19 yen on trading platform EBS at one point, its lowest level since early March, before changing hands at 81.43 yen, down 0.2 percent from late U.S. trade on Friday.

One possible support for the dollar lies at 81.07 yen, a 38.2 percent retracement of its rally in February-March.

The latest data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows currency speculators slightly trimmed their net short positions in the yen in the week ended April 3 to 65,108 contracts.

That was still close to the previous week’s 67,622 contracts, which was the biggest net short position in the yen since July 2007.

Trade is likely to be thinner than usual over the course of the day, with financial markets in Australia and New Zealand as well as many parts of Europe closed for Easter.

CitiFX’s gauge of market positioning suggests some investors took short positions in the yen in the first two weeks of March as it fell towards an 11-month low of 84.187 yen to the dollar hit in mid-March, and such bets may soon turn sour, analysts at Citigroup said in a research note.

“This means that many investors entered yen shorts at unattractive levels and spot is already trading close to levels which could prove frustrating,” CitiFX analysts Todd Elmer and Osamu Takashima said in their note.

There is a chance that even a modest drop in dollar/yen could spur stop-loss short-covering in the yen, they said.

The yen climbed broadly, with the euro hitting a fresh one-month low near 106.17 yen. The single currency stood at 106.41 yen, down 0.4 percent on the day.

Against the dollar, the euro touched a fresh three-week low of $1.3033. After trimming some losses, the euro stood at $1.3066, down 0.2 percent on the day.

The euro has come under renewed pressure after weak demand at a Spanish bond auction last week rekindled worries about the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis.

One risk for the yen this week is the Bank of Japan’s two-day policy meeting that ends on Tuesday. The central bank’s policy has been under the spotlight since its surprise monetary easing in February triggered a broad fall in the yen.

The BOJ is seen refraining from easing monetary policy and holding fire, however, until it unveils its long-term economic and price forecasts on April 27.

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