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Friday January 25, 2008 - 12:11:07 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen falls as confidence edges back, stocks rally

Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:05am EST

(Changes byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The yen fell broadly on Friday as a rally in global stocks fuelled appetite for riskier trades, putting the low-yielding Japanese currency under pressure.

Gains in high-yielding units such as sterling <GBP=> also underscored improved risk appetite as stocks rose across Europe and Asia, with Japan's benchmark Nikkei index .N225 surging over 4 percent in its biggest one-day gain in about six years.

Stock investors were cheered by a U.S. tax stimulus package, reassuring U.S. jobs data and the prospect of another U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate cut next week, all tending to ease fears that the world's biggest economy will slip into recession.

"The yen is weaker today and equities have risen alongside (an improvement in) global economic sentiment," said Colin Asher, FX strategist at Nomura.

The Federal Reserve made a surprise move to cut interest rates by 0.75 percent on Tuesday in a bid to support an economy heading for a sharp slowdown.

Stock market moves are often regarded as a barometer of risk appetite, and financial markets have calmed down after swinging wildly earlier in the week on the Fed's rate cut and escalating fears of a U.S. recession.

The euro was supported after tough inflation talk by European Central Bank officials on Thursday cooled speculation of a possible euro-zone interest rate cut, even as the Fed is expected to cut rates further.

A survey earlier on Friday showing German consumer morale is likely to hold steady in February helped to underscore the hawkish stance that ECB officials have taken. [ID:nL2422929]

At 1123 GMT, the dollar gained 0.5 percent to 107.66 yen <JPY=>, pulling well away from a 2-1/2-year low of 104.95 yen hit on Wednesday. The euro was up 0.2 percent against the yen at 158.49 <EURJPY=R>.

Against the dollar, the euro fell 0.3 percent to $1.4715 <EUR=>, taking a breather after hitting one-week highs in the previous session.

High yielding sterling <GBPJPY=R> gained 0.5 percent to 212.83 yen, extending a rebound from 21-month lows of near 204.60 yen plumbed earlier in the week.


Despite the dollar's recovery against the yen, it is seen staying on the back foot in the lead-up to next week's scheduled Fed policy-setting meeting, where markets have priced in the risk for a further 50 basis point cut in the 3.5 percent federal funds rate. [FEDWATCH]

"If you look at the course of the week, the additional stimulus to the economy is significant, but in the medium term you have to ask if it's enough to prevent a U.S. economic slowdown," said Nomura's Asher.

U.S. economic weakness remains a serious concern, with a slumping housing market and tight credit conditions keeping a stranglehold on growth. Any returning confidence on the market is very fragile, analyst said.

"Risk aversion is just below the surface as indicated by the still very high levels in VIX volatility despite the past days' decline," said Dresdner Kleinwort in a note to clients.

"In the latest update with data through January 23 our proprietary risk indicator ARPI reached levels, which prevailed at the beginning of the US recession in 2001."

There is also a raft of crucial economic indicators due next week including the influential U.S. non-farm payrolls report. (Editing by David Christian-Edwards)

© 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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