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Tuesday March 25, 2008 - 11:31:10 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Dollar falls as jitters on U.S. economy persist

Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:45am EDT

(Changes dateline, byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - The dollar fell broadly on Tuesday, snapping four days of gains, with persistent nerves on U.S. economic health dominating sentiment.

The greenback staged a recovery in the lead-up to the Western Easter break after a steep bout of profit-taking in commodity markets saw investors retreat to cash.

Those gains were extended on Monday as JPMorgan (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) raised its offer for stricken banking heavyweight Bear Stearns (BSC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) fivefold, and as existing U.S. homes sales rose in February.

But nagging doubts on the overall outlook for the greenback saw investors selling the currency again due to scepticism on the chances of a sustained recovery despite aggressive Federal Reserve efforts to boost liquidity in the financial system.

"The negative dollar environment persists, there was positive housing data but apart from that there is no solid news to say that there will be a sustained dollar recovery," said Niels Christensen, currency strategist at Nordea in Copenhagen.

The supportive tap of cash from profit-taking in commodities had also slowed as gold prices <XAU=> bounced, but oil was still depressed near $100 a barrel CLc1.

By 0920 GMT the euro was up 0.65 percent to $1.5532 <EUR=> after falling as low as $1.5341 in the previous session. The single currency is down from a record high of $1.5904 hit last week, but was still up 6.4 percent since the start of this year.

Rhetoric against the euro's recent climb continued on Monday with comments from ECB Vice-President Lucas Papademos who said that recent moves in exchange rates had been excessive. ((Click on [ID:nFAT004042])).

The dollar was broadly flat against the yen at 100.55 yen <JPY=>, erasing earlier gains to above 101 yen made after data on Monday.

The dollar had tumbled to a record low against the euro and a 13-year trough of 95.77 yen last week when the announcement of Bear Stearns' takeover at a rock-bottom price stoked fears that other major financial firms could be casualties in the crisis.

HIGHER YIELDERS RISE

High yielding currencies performed strongly, drawing support from rising stocks.

The New Zealand dollar was up 1.3 percent to $0.8017 <NZD=> while the Australian dollar climbed about 0.6 percent to $0.9122 <AUD=>.

Rising stocks typically prod investors to borrow funds in low-yielding currencies like the yen to buy higher-yielding currencies in the carry trade. Japan's Nikkei share average .N225 jumped 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

Some market players were wary about returning to riskier trades because several recoveries in risk appetite have proved to be short-lived since the credit market crisis erupted.

Investors will scour U.S. data later in the day that include the S&P/Case Shiller indexes on U.S. housing prices, along with the Conference Board's report on consumer confidence in March.

"We would view this as a bear market bounce and see plenty of potential for investor confidence to be dented this week by releases such as consumer confidence, new home sales and even today's Case Schiller house price index," said ING in a note to clients. (Editing by Stephen Nisbet)

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