The safe-haven Swiss franc nursed heavy losses in Asia on Friday, having posted record one-day falls against the euro and dollar after the Swiss National Bank threatened to step up its fight to curb the franc's strength.
That stirred speculation that Japan might also act to weaken the yen, in a repeat of last week's intervention which came hot on the heels of the SNB's surprise interest rate cut.
The euro jumped as high as 1.0922 francs , pulling away from a record low of 1.0075 plumbed on Tuesday. It last stood at 1.0847 francs. The dollar soared to a high around 0.7690 , well off its all-time low near 0.7068 set earlier in the week. It last traded at 0.7624 francs.
Much of the speculation was sparked by a Swiss newspaper report, which quoted SNB Vice Chairman Thomas Jordan as saying the central bank could ease monetary policy further.
He also declined to rule out the possibility of pegging the franc to the euro.
"Market reaction was probably a reflection of how long participants are of the Swiss franc," said Richard Grace, chief currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank.
"But there was nothing official released on the SNB website, there was no indication of what rate were they considering a peg and how they would go about it."
Speculators were also squeezed out after Swiss real rates turned negative, partially driven by the central bank's provision of extra liquidity, traders said.
The franc came under more pressure as U.S. stocks staged a massive rally on bargain hunting, undermining demand for the safe-haven currency.
"The near-term correction across the Swiss franc crosses should gather pace going into the end of the week, and the central bank may go even further as it aims to make holding the Swiss franc less attractive", said David Song, currency analyst at the DailyFX.
Still, analysts said the Swiss franc is likely to stay supported as long as worries about a global slowdown and debt problems in the United States and euro zone persisted.
Indeed, another currency highly sought after in times of market distress is the Japanese yen, which remained near a record high on the dollar despite recent intervention by Japan to weaken it.
The dollar last traded at 76.86 yen , near an all-time low of 76.25 yen set in mid-March.
"Things are still very fragile, although the extent of the panic and fear may have eased somewhat," Commonwealth Bank's Grace added.
He said the market would need to see better U.S. economic data as well as some subsiding of euro zone sovereign debt fears for more normal market conditions to return. "You are asking for more than a slice of cake."
Societe Generale strategists said they were "highly distrustful" of bounces by 'higher-beta' currencies and favour the currencies of economies with the biggest current account surpluses, namely Norway, Sweden, Singapore and China.
"Of course, Japan and Switzerland score well on that simple metric," they wrote in a note. "By contrast, we are much warier of currencies propped up by high rates (Brazilian Real, Australian dollar) and which have current account deficits. If growth slows, their rates can fall, and higher volatility eats into the attraction of these rates anyway."
Still, the turnaround in risk sentiment helped underpin commodity currencies. The Australian dollar rose more than two U.S. cents to $1.0336 . Earlier in the week, it plunged to a five-month low around $0.9930. (Editing by Wayne Cole)