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Yen gains, euro slips ahead of G20 meet

The yen pushed higher especially against the dollar Thursday, a day before G20 ministers meet in Russia with the Japanese currency's depreciation a hot topic.

But the euro, which some European officials have said is overvalued, took a sharp turn lower after fourth quarter GDP growth data released Thursday gave a bleak picture for the eurozone.

At 2300 GMT, the dollar bought 92.87 yen, compared to 93.39 yen late Wednesday. The euro fell to 124.10 yen from 125.63.

Meanwhile the euro slipped to $1.3385 from $1.3452.

The eurozone's growth woes directed traffic on Thursday. Data showed the recession in the 17-nation single currency area deepened sharply in the fourth quarter of 2012 as the debt crisis continued to sap growth and confidence.

The eurozone economy shrank 0.6 percent in the three months to December, which compared with a contraction of 0.1 percent in the previous quarter.

That took some of the strength out of the euro, after having pushed over $1.37 at the beginning of February.

The worries of "currency wars" and competitive devaluation continued to fuel the market, with the topic likely to feature in the two-day G20 ministers meeting.

The US and other leading economies have sought to play down the idea that they might press Tokyo especially for driving down the yen's value to power up the Japanese economy.

Earlier Thursday the International Monetary Fund dismissed worries over currency wars.

"On the so-called talk of currency wars which we feel is overblown," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters, "our multilateral assessment doesn't indicate very significant deviation from fair value for the relevant currencies."

Nevertheless, behind the scenes, some said the issue was alive.

"Japan is not in the clear. Everyone understands that this message was addressed to Tokyo as it was not respecting the rules of the collective game," said a European finance official who asked not to be named.

The British pound weakened Thursday, falling to $1.5496 from $1.5542. The dollar rose to 0.9241 Swiss francs from 0.9169 francs.