Yen hit near three-year low as new BOJ governor eyed

LONDON (Reuters) - The yen fell close to a three-year low on Wednesday on expectations that a new Bank of Japan governor could ease policy, while the euro was steady and European shares edged up ahead of a central bank meeting.

BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa has said he will step down on March 19, opening the way for a successor supporting the kind of expansionary policies the government favours.

The dollar touched 94.075 yen to its highest since May 2010 before profit taking saw it drop back to 93.76 yen, while the euro also rose as high as 127.71 yen, its strongest since April 2010, before it also eased.

Against the dollar, the euro dipped to $1.3546 but was within this week's range of $1.3450 - $1.3710.

New Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's support for aggressive easing does not seem to caused an outcry from other countries although there have been sporadic complaints from Germany and South Korea.

This makes yen selling comfortable, said Minori Uchida, chief currency strategist at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

"The G20 finance ministers meeting next week is unlikely to discuss currencies much. The market is likely to test further downside on the yen in the near future," Uchida said.

European shares edged up and the euro was steady ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank policy meeting after recovering from falls on Monday due to a flare up of political uncertainty in Spain and Italy. The ECB is expected to keep interest rates on hold.

London's FTSE 100 <.ftse> was up 0.5 percent, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> was up 0.3 percent and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> was 0.2 percent higher at 0900 GMT, leaving the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.fteu3> up 0.5 percent at 1160.05.

Asian shares and industrial commodities and oil, now above $116 a barrel, consolidated recent gains that came on signs of global economic recovery.

The slide in the yen bolstered Japanese equities to their highest since October 2008 while expectations of more monetary easing pushed two-year Japanese government bond yields down to a nine-year low of 0.045 percent.

In the European bond market, benchmark German Bund futures edged up before a sale of five-year German debt that is expected to find strong demand due to a recent rise in yields and political uncertainty in Spain and Italy.

Corruption allegations in Spain have put Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy under pressure and a scandal at one of its oldest banks has led to an increasingly uncertain outcome in Italian elections later in February.

"There are fairly ominous signs (in the periphery). I know they (Italian and Spanish bonds) had a good day yesterday, but there's Spanish supply coming up," one trader said.

(Editing by Anna Willard)

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