G7 ministers, central bankers to talk on Monday

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Financial chiefs and central bankers of the G7 nations are expected to talk again before Asian markets reopen Monday to ease fears after the US ratings downgrade and eurozone debt crisis, reports said.

The officials of the Group of Seven -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the United States -- are expected to hold a teleconference as early as Monday morning Asian time, said major media, including Jiji Press.

They might release a joint statement designed to calm market fears, after senior officials from the G7 members began talking Sunday, according to Jiji and Kyodo News.

In the expected talks on Monday, Japan, the second-largest foreign holder of US debt after China, is expected to announce its plan to continue buying Treasuries, Japanese media said.

Tokyo will likely also use the occasion to discuss its currency market intervention to weaken the yen and boost an export-led recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Jiji and Kyodo said.

Global markets have plunged in recent days on continued worries over the uncertain US economic outlook as well as the lingering eurozone bond problem.

Worries over further market turmoil deepened in the wake of the downgrading of US government debt by Standard & Poor's as well as the persistent debt problems in the eurozone.

As investors dumped the dollar, the yen soared to record high levels, prompting Japanese authorities to step into the market to tame the yen's strength to safeguard its export sector and fragile recovery.

Tokyo on Thursday intervened in the currency market, selling reportedly up to four trillion yen ($51 billion).

Senior vice minister of finance Fumihiko Igarashi reiterated that Tokyo stood ready to intervene, should the yen appreciate again.

"It is not yet over. We will take action when we see anti-market, manipulative moves, unnatural moves," he told a television political show.

But pundits have painted gloomy prospects for the effectiveness of such efforts, with Washington tolerating a weak dollar, which promotes US exports.

The Japanese yen could rise as high as 73 to the dollar by the end of this year, well above the current record high of 76.25, said a former top Japanese financial official.

Eisuke Sakakibara, nicknamed "Mr Yen" in the late 1990s for his influence in financial markets, said in another television programme that the yen was likely to appreciate despite interventions by Tokyo.

Market interventions "might leave impacts that might last (for a few days), but you cannot change the overall trend" of a weakening dollar, he said.

Sakakibara said market interventions that he conducted a generation ago were effective because Washington held a strong-dollar policy and supported Japan's need to weaken the yen.

"What Japan needs to do is to enjoy the fruits of a high yen," by investing in foreign countries, he added.

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