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Monday December 3, 2007 - 21:35:03 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen, Swiss franc gain as risk aversion resurfaces

Mon Dec 3, 2007 4:29pm EST

(Adds details, updates prices)

By Lucia Mutikani

NEW YORK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The yen rose broadly in quiet trade on Monday as continued uncertainty over the fallout from the U.S. credit market turmoil caused investors to reduce exposure to risky carry trades.

U.S. stocks fell on concerns about the impact of the housing slump, boosting the Japanese currency. Investors tend to price risk perception through equity markets and there is a negative correlation between stocks and the yen.

"There is that perception of lingering financial market risk. When perceptions of risk are elevated, people are going to unwind risky trades, but I can't see that there is a lot going on in the market," said David Watt, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

Carry trades are strategies where investors typically sell the low-yielding yen to buy high-yielding currencies, and the trades generally reverse when risk aversion rises, bolstering the Japanese currency.

The latest credit casualties outside the United States include four Norwegian municipalities hit by losses on U.S. investments [ID:nL29914426] and German state-backed regional lender WestLB, which will see a loss of up to 1 billion euros this year. [ID:nL01184153].

In late New York trade, the dollar was down 0.6 percent at 110.48 yen <JPY=>, having tripped to a session low of 110.14. The dollar rose to 111.23 on Friday, its highest level since mid-November.

"We are really in the mid-zone of where we were on Friday, We really haven't gained or lost a tremendous amount of ground," said Camilla Sutton, currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Canada.

The euro traded down 0.4 percent at 162.00 yen <EURJPY=>, while the dollar dipped 0.5 percent to 1.1267 against the Swiss franc <CHF=>. The high-yielding Australian dollar fell 0.4 percent to US$0.8801 <AUD=>.

"It's really hard to get the perception that there is anything in particular that people are getting more bullish about with regard to the Japanese yen, as opposed to the yen being caught up in other events," said Watt.

Traders also pointed to a report by Moody's Investors Service on Friday that it may be preparing a series of credit-rating cuts related to subprime mortgages that may impact over $100 billion worth of securities. [ID:nN30608139]

The dollar briefly pared losses against the yen after U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the government is close to brokering a comprehensive mortgage aid plan that will shepherd many troubled subprime borrowers into safe and sustainable loans. [ID:nL03227786].

The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.4664 <EUR=>, still about 3 cents below November's record peaks but recovering some ground after posting its biggest weekly percentage fall in more than three months.

Last week, the dollar rose 1.5 percent versus a basket of currencies .DXY -- its biggest weekly gain since June 2006 -- after comments by top Federal Reserve officials cemented expectations for interest rate cuts next week and in 2008.

The expected rate cuts boosted confidence that the Fed would keep the U.S. economy from recession, igniting gains in stock markets and briefly shifting market focus from a narrowing yield advantage.

On Monday, the dollar index traded 0.2 percent lower at 75.962. Markets have fully priced a 25 basis point cut in the Fed's benchmark interest rate to 4.25 percent on Dec. 11.

Investors were reluctant to take big risks before euro zone and British interest rate decisions this week and a closely watched U.S. jobs report that may help determine the extent of U.S. monetary policy easing next week and in the new year.

The European Central Bank is expected to hold its key rate at 4 percent on Thursday. (Additional reporting by Vivianne Rodrigues, editing by Leslie Adler)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.


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