The yen tested higher ground on Wednesday, buoyed by stop-loss buying and eking out gains against the high-yielding Australian dollar after a mixed batch of Chinese economic data.
The yen fell initially after the figures showed Chinese industrial output and retail sales rose a bit more than expected in October from year earlier, but then gained on more numbers showing a dip in the pace of investment and loan growth and lower than forecast exports and imports.
The move also triggered stop-loss sell orders on dollar/yen around 89.50 yen JPY=, briefly sending the greenback down as far as 89.29 yen, its lowest level in more than a week.
The numbers are a bit mixed, said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief FX strategist for Japan at Barclays Capital.
Loans are a focal point, since they have been seen as a driver of China's domestic demand-led economic recovery, and a factor behind fund flows into China's stock market, Yamamoto said.
The dollar also dipped broadly after the data and hit a fresh 15-month low of 74.889 .DXY against a basket of currencies before edging back up to 75.057 later and recovering to stand almost unchanged on the day at 89.72 yen.
The Australian dollar initially rose as high as $0.9325 AUD=D4, nearing its October peak of $0.9330, which was the highest since August 2008. But it later edged down to $0.9287.
Yen crosses also fell after investors took profits in their recent gains, dealers said.
Against the yen, the euro fell 0.2 percent to 134.37 yen, dipping as far as 133.80 yen on Japanese exporters' selling and after it hit some stops, dealers said.
The Aussie fell 0.2 percent to 83.34 yen, paring losses after a drop to 83.03 yen in the wake of the Chinese data. AUDJPY=R The market is awaiting Australian unemployment data on Thursday for clues on economic strength and further rate hikes. ECONAU
Market players said even though the dollar had edged back later in the day, it remained broadly out of favour as investors expect U.S. interest rates to remain near zero into 2010 as the economy recovers from a harsh recession.
Several Federal Reserve officials seemed to back that view on Tuesday, striking a cautious note on the U.S. economic outlook.
The dollar index is entering a new world, and the question is whether there will be more dollar selling from here, said Akira Hoshino, chief manager for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ's foreign exchange trading department.
Since U.S. monetary policy is the fundamental basis for dollar-selling, until people get the sense that they are really going to do it (raise interest rates), it will be hard to buy the dollar, Hoshino said.
The euro was steady at $1.4982 EUR=. Option barriers are lurking around $1.5025 levels while buyers are lined up at $1.4950.
Meanwhile, sterling GBP=D4 was trading around $1.6747, having tumbled to as low as $1.6600 on Tuesday after Fitch ratings agency told Reuters that Britain was the economy most at risk of losing its top AAA credit rating.