By Cecile Lefort and Naomi Tajitsu
WELLINGTON/SYDNEY, Feb 18 (Reuters) - The New Zealand and Australian dollars rose near four-year peaks against a broadly weaker yen on Monday after Tokyo escaped direct criticism from its G20 peers about aggressive reflationary plans that have weakened the currency.
As a result, investors resumed selling the Japanese currency, sending the Aussie as high as 96.87 yen from a low of 96.13 on Friday. It was last at 96.78, closing in on a four-year peak of 97.42 touched earlier this month.
'The G20 didn't specifically target the yen and that was seen as a good thing,' said Annette Beacher, head of Asia Pacific research at TD Securities in Singapore.
The Aussie has gained 17 percent on the yen since November with some analysts expecting the rise to continue given the Japanese government's determination to fight deflation.
Still, TD's Beacher doesn't think the Aussie will break fresh records until the minutes of the Bank of Japan's last meeting are released and the government announces its pick for the new central bank governor.
'I don't think we are going to see fresh positions until we find out what's going on,' she said.
The kiwi made even bigger strides, rising to 79.50 yen , a whisker away from its highest since 2008 at 79.64 set last week. It has gained 22 percent since November.
The Antipodean currencies, however, ran into profit-taking against the U.S. dollar. The Aussie slipped from a nine-day peak of $1.0375 touched on Friday. It last changed hands at $1.0285 , but was still above a four-month trough of $1.0227 hit last week.
Support was found at $1.0260 and below that the year low of $1.0227, with resistance around $1.0335.
The New Zealand dollar nudged lower to $0.8425, from $0.8444 on Friday. It made a 17-month high of $0.8534 last week thanks to upbeat domestic economic data.
The kiwi's rally has lost some steam after it was unable to hold above $0.8500, but market participants expect asset managers looking to diversify foreign holdings will continue buying New Zealand assets.
Westpac currency strategist Imre Speizer said the pullback in the kiwi had been driven by investors booking profits but the upward trend remained firmly intact.
'At the moment we're seeing a correction, but as long as it doesn't break below $0.8300 the upward trend will continue,' he said, adding that the kiwi could test a lifetime high above $0.8800 in the coming months.
Versus a currency basket, the kiwi was at 76.90, backing off a lifetime high of 77.46 hit on Friday.
It slipped to NZ$1.2185 versus the Aussie, retreating from a 2 1/2-year high around NZ$1.2135 hit on Friday.
A bruised pound finally showed some signs of life against the Antipodean currencies following a week of deep losses. It bounced to NZ$1.8326 from a lifetime low of NZ$1.8141 and to A$1.5036 from a six-month trough of A$1.4925.
Data out in Australia showed car sales eased back in January, from December, but were still the best for any January on record and up strongly on the same month last year.
New Zealand government bond prices were mostly flat.
Australian government bond futures eased, with the three-year contract 0.05 points lower at 97.090 and the 10-year contract off 0.02 points at 96.450.
(Australia and New Zealand bureaux) Keywords: MARKETS AUSTRALIA NEWZEALAND/FOREX
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