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Tuesday May 6, 2008 - 11:07:20 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar stumbles as risk appetite falters

Tue May 6, 2008 6:56am EDT

(Changes byline, updates quotes, prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, May 6 (Reuters) - The dollar gave up tentative gains on Tuesday versus the euro, pressured by waning risk appetite as European equities fell, while the single currency drew support from slightly stronger than expected service sector data.

Concerns over the impact of rising inflationary pressures amid soaring food and energy prices was also reflected in crude oil surging above $120 to a record high CLc1.

Further bad news from the banking sector weighed on risk appetite as European shares fell, led by Swiss bank UBS (UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) after it unveiled large job cuts.

Reinsurer Swiss Re (RUKN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) announced another round of credit writedowns and said its first-quarter net profit had halved, missing analysts' forecasts and sending its shares lower.

Meanwhile, data released earlier showed a pick up in euro zone service sector growth, with the RBS/NTC services PMI coming in at 52.0, slightly above a flash reading of 51.8.

"European equity markets have been a bit disappointing. We're seeing a little bit of an increase in risk aversion with the investment community rotating back into the cyclically defensive currencies -- so we've seen the Swiss franc, the yen and euro all rallying today," JP Morgan G10 strategist Kamal Sharma said.

"Also we had the PMI services numbers that give credence to the view that the euro zone economy is slowing but holding up pretty well in the face of downside risks to global economic growth," he added.

The euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.5511 <EUR=>, holding above a five-week low hit late last week at $1.5359 as London traders returned to the market after a bank holiday on Monday.

The dollar was little changed at 104.85 yen <JPY=> and shed 0.3 percent versus the Swiss franc to 1.0492 francs <CHF=>.

Against a basket of six major rival currencies the greenback was a touch weaker at 73.125 .DXY.

The Australian dollar was little changed at $0.9456 <AUD=>, having retreated from a two-week high after the Reserve Bank of Australia held its key cash rate at a 12-year high of 7.25 percent and underlined its concern about demand.


Record high oil prices were seen reinforcing the European Central Bank's focus on inflation, which President Jean-Claude Trichet on Monday termed a "significant" risk.

This underlined expectations the central bank would keep rates at 4 percent when it meets on Thursday.

Analysts also broadly expected the ECB to stick with its hawkish line on inflation in Trichet's post-meeting briefing on Thursday, despite a recent run of soft data, but some felt a psychological change in perceptions was already underway.

Bank of New York Mellon said much of the weakness in the U.S. economy, stemming from the ongoing credit crisis, has been factored into market sentiment.

"Moreover, the Federal Reserve has already taken most, if not all, of the action that the market expects them to take while the USD is priced at highly competitive levels," the bank said in a note to clients.

"There is growing feeling that while the ECB is undoubtedly sticking to the mandate it has been set, there has been a notable deterioration in the economic data of late out of the Euro-zone and that the euro is looking increasingly uncompetitively priced," it added.

(Reporting by Veronica Brown; Editing by Ian Jones)

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