* Yen gains on euro and dollar as G20 statement eyed
* European shares weighed down by growth concerns
* Oil slides under $118 a barrel
* Gold hits a 6-month low
By Richard Hubbard
LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The yen rose on Friday as the
Group of 20 struggled to find a common stance on recent currency
moves, while renewed fears over global growth weighed on shares
The meeting in Moscow of finance officials from the Group of
20 nations, which account for 90 percent of the world's economy,
is set to be dominated by sparring over the motives behind
expansive economic policies that have driven currency moves.
Uncertainty over the meeting's outcome saw traders cut short
yen positions on Friday, sending the Japanese unit up 0.5
percent against the dollar to 92.40 yen and the euro down
to a two-week low of 123.10 yen.
At issue is whether the loose monetary and fiscal policies
of the United States, Japan, Britain and the euro zone amount to
strategies of "competitive devaluation" or currency manipulation
intended to boost exports and growth.
Attention has focused mostly on Japan, where the new
government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has appeared to
specifically target a weaker yen to stimulate the economy.
But European political leaders have also raised possibility
of political interference in exchange rate policy with French
President Francois Hollande last week calling for a medium-term
target for the euro.
The Group of Seven rich powers - four big EU economies,
Japan, the United States and Canada - weighed in to the debate
this week by reaffirming a shared commitment to
market-determined exchange rates, but some quickly undermined
the united front with off-the-record briefings critical of
"There is an issue of 'who started the fire?' You can say
that Japan is getting really aggressive but then they might say,
'well, what have the Americans done?', 'what about the British?'
and so on," said William De Vijlder, chief investment officer at
BNP Paribas Investment Partners.
An apparently frustrated European Central Bank President
Mario Draghi said in Moscow on Friday all the loose talk on
currencies was "inappropriate, fruitless and self-defeating".
The conflicting comments have put the spotlight on the G20's
final communique which currency markets will scrutinise to
determine whether to resume the current trend for a weaker yen
and stronger euro.
Traders is the yen were also closely watching developments
in Tokyo where premier Abe was said to be close to selecting his
nominee for Bank of Japan governor. A decision could come in the
next few days, sources told Reuters.
Shares were broadly flat with the pan-European FTSEurofirst
300 index little changed at 1,163.68 points following
dismal gross domestic product data from across the euro zone on
Frankfurt's DAX and London's FTSE were also
little changed while Paris's CAC-40 gained 0.3 percent.
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, though it has also boosted talk
that the European Central Bank may have to ease further.
European shares have risen strongly from a low point last
June, buoyed by an ECB pledge of new measures to tackle the
region's economic problems, and any fall back in prices is
expected to be temporary.
"There is some scepticism out there that February is not
going to be a great month, but I think there's more room to run.
The momentum is still intact," said Terry Torrison, managing
director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities.
The weaker outlook for demand implied by the both the euro
zone GDP data and weak growth in Japan sent Brent crude under
$118 a barrel and on course for its first weekly loss since
Front-month Brent futures fell 30 cents to $117.70 a
The gyrations in the currency market, which have
strengthened the dollar versus the euro, sent gold to a
six-month low of $1,625.44 an ounce on Friday. The metal is
headed for its biggest weekly drop since June, down 2.4 percent.