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Yen, euro seen as havens from Fed, China uncertainties

Japan's government offices have requested 102.4099 trillion yen (US$852.14 billion) for an annual budget for the next fiscal year from April 2016, the biggest amount ever, government sources told Reuters on Thursday.

[TOKYO] As China's economic slowdown and a possible Federal Reserve interest-rate increase roils global markets, currency traders are treating the yen and the euro as havens of choice.

The correlation between the yen and the euro reached its highest since early 2007 as the two currencies moved in tandem - rising and falling - amid last week's global stock rout. The Japanese and European currencies both advanced Monday (Aug 31) for the first time in a week as uncertainty increased about global monetary policy direction. The Federal Reserve must decide when it will raise rates for the first time since 2006, while China watchers ponder whether the Asian nation can engineer a soft economic landing with a report Tuesday forecast to show manufacturing there contracted in August.

"There is strong wariness among market players over a slew of key economic data this week and over China," said Kengo Suzuki, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

"With sharp one-sided risk aversion correcting in the latter part of last week, markets are preparing for this week's data and meetings. Stability should return as China worries recede and expectations heighten for the US economy." The yen gained 0.5 per cent to 121.12 per US dollar as of 2:45 pm in Tokyo. It has strengthened 2.3 per cent this month, heading for its biggest advance since January 2014, after China unexpectedly devalued the yuan on Aug. 11. The euro rose 0.6 per cent to US$1.1249. The single currency has climbed 2.4 per cent in August, set for the best month since April.

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The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.2 per cent to 1,205.43, after completing its first weekly advance since China's devaluation.

Manufacturing data and employment figures are due from the US this week. Economists forecast that a report on Friday will show employers hired 220,000 workers in August, compared with an average of 211,000 so far this year. Fed vice chairman Stanley Fischer on Aug 29 indicated policy makers are open to increasing borrowing costs next month.

Hedge funds and other large speculators reduced their bearish yen wagers in the week to Aug 25 to the lowest in more than three months."What we're looking out for this week is the dollar strengthening back again given that Fischer has failed to rule out a September rate hike," said Raiko Shareef, a markets strategist in Wellington at Bank of New Zealand Ltd.