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Friday August 1, 2008 - 11:54:29 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar inches up, traders await U.S. jobs data

Fri Aug 1, 2008 6:38am EDT

* Euro down nearly 0.3 percent at $1.5560, nears 1-month low

* Yen up broadly as risk appetite retreats

* Traders braced for U.S. non-farm payrolls

(Changes byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The dollar neared a one-month high against the euro on Friday before crucial U.S. jobs data, which some in the market said may surprise on the upside following an upbeat employment reading earlier this week.

The yen gained broadly on low risk appetite which knocked stock prices, prompting some investors to drop higher-yielding assets in favour of the relatively safe Japanese currency.

The dollar was supported somewhat as traders adjusted positions before U.S. non-farm payrolls due at 1230 GMT, with some analysts expecting the number to surprise on the upside after U.S. private sector jobs added 9,000 jobs this month.

In a Reuters poll, economists forecast that companies shed 75,000 workers in July in what would be the seventh straight month of job losses.

The market has been anticipating the figures all week, but some analysts said that the payrolls may ultimately have limited lasting impact on the dollar, as investors already acknowledge weakness in the economy, while the financial sector continues to be punished by the year-long credit crisis.

"There might be an intraday impact, but beyond that it might not mean much for the dollar," said Bilal Hafeez, foreign exchange strategist at Deutsche Bank, adding that figures in line with forecasts would only add to the view that the U.S. economy is struggling.

"The Fed looks like it's on hold for now, and we'd need something very surprising for that view to change."

Data on Thursday showing a jump in U.S. weekly jobless claims and weaker-than-expected second-quarter growth, as well as a shock revision showing the U.S. economy shrank in the final quarter of 2007 further stoked the view that the U.S. central bank is unlikely to raise interest rates anytime soon.

Fed funds rates FEDWATCH show that the Fed may raise rates by 25 basis points to 2.25 percent by the end of the year, although the chances of that happening at the central bank's meeting next week is less than 20 percent.

By 1013 GMT, the euro <EUR=> was down nearly 0.3 percent at $1.5560, not far from $1.5518 hit earlier in the week for the first time since late June.

The dollar index .DXY, a measure of the dollar's value against a basket of currencies, was up 0.2 percent at 73.339.

But the U.S. currency <JPY=> slipped 0.2 percent to 107.55 yen, as the Japanese currency was supported across the board after European shares FTEU3 fell 0.5 percent, following losses in Asian and U.S. stocks.

The yen tends to perform well when risk aversion increases as investors exit carry positions where they sell the low-yielding currencies to fund purchases of higher yielding assets.


Payrolls figures are notoriously volatile, but analysts said that the report may be a key hurdle to determine whether the U.S. currency can extend its gains made in the last month. "A bigger-than-expected fall in non-farm payrolls could cause an abrupt reversal in the market's recent optimism, resulting in lower bond yields and a sell-off in equities." ING analysts said in a report, adding that it could push the dollar lower.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars fell 0.6 percent <AUD=> and 0.7 percent <NZD=>, respectively, as both high-yielding currencies came under selling pressure on speculation of a near-term cut in Australian interest rates.

The Aussie hit a seven-week low of $0.9355 after the UK's Daily Telegraph said that the Reserve Bank of Australia would set out the case for lower interest rates after its policy meeting next week.

The New Zealand dollar hit a 10-month lows around $0.7260 on deepening concerns over the local financial sector after the country's largest fund manager said it was suspending activity in one of its funds.[ID:nWEL205638] (Editing by David Christian-Edwards)

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