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GLOBAL MARKETS-Yen firms as G20 eyed, weak Europe dampens mood

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Sun, Feb 17, 2013 06:51 hrs

* Yen gains on euro and dollar as G20 statement eyed

* European shares weighed down by growth concerns

* Oil slides under $118 a barrel

* Gold touches a 6-week low

By Richard Hubbard

LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The yen firmed on Friday as investors braced for the likelihood of more conflicting comments on currencies from the G20 meeting, while a revival in worries about global economic growth weighed on shares and commodities.

The G20 forum in Moscow is in the spotlight as officials are expected to discuss whether the ultra loose monetary polices of the United States, Japan, Britain and the euro zone depart from the group's commitment to market-driven exchange rates.

The dollar shed 0.5 percent to 92.46 yen, dropping as far as a one-week low of 92.25 yen while the euro fell to a two-week low of 123.10 yen.

The Japanese currency gained some support when a Russian official said drafting the final communique from the G20 meeting was proving difficult, but the text would not single out Japan for criticism.

"There is an issue of 'who started the fire?' You can say that Japan has getting really aggressive but then they might say, well what have Americans done, what about the British and so on," said William De Vijlder, chief investment officer at BNP Paribas Investment Partners.

The yen was also underpinned by expectations that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is close to selecting his nominee for Bank of Japan governor. A decision could come in the next few days, sources close to the process told Reuters

Shares were broadly flat with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index little changed at 1,163.34 points following dismal gross domestic product data from across the euro zone on Thursday.

The surprisingly sharp contraction in the region's economy during the final three months of 2012 has undermined hopes of an early recovery from recession, but also boosted talk that the European Central Bank may have to ease policy further.

Frankfurt's DAX, Paris's CAC-40 and London's FTSE were around 0.1 to 0.3 percent lower.

The weaker demand outlook implied by the GDP data sent Brent crude under $118 a barrel and on course for its first weekly loss since mid-January.

Front-month Brent futures LCOc1 fell 30 cents to $117.70 a barrel, while Gold dropped to a six-week low of $1,629.89 an ounce, and was headed for its biggest weekly drop since December.



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