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Monday September 1, 2008 - 10:50:03 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Battered sterling helps feed dollar revival

Mon Sep 1, 2008 4:50am EDT

* Dlr boosted by sterling's tumble after UK finmin comments

* Yen jumps vs dlr, euro as global stock markets fall

* Investors cautiously eye oil ahead of Hurricane Gustav

* Traders offer limited reaction to euro zone PMI

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

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Sterling dropped to its lowest level against the dollar in more than two years on Monday after the UK's finance minister issued a pessimistic view of the economy, helping the dollar to extend broader gains.

The dollar index crept towards an eight-month high, but broad falls on global stock markets capped gains, allowing the Japanese currency to rise on cooling demand for risky carry trades that involve selling the low-yielding yen.

Markets also braced for the onslaught of a strong hurricane on the Gulf of Mexico, which has shut down activities at oil companies in the region and pushed oil prices more than a percent higher.

Sterling dropped to its lowest level against the dollar since late April 2006 and hit a record low against the euro on comments from UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling that the economy was facing its worst downturn in 60 years [ID:nLT18684].

The combination of severe weakness in the UK economy and the Bank of England's wariness of cutting interest rates due to higher inflation have pushed the pound more than 10 percent lower since July, and analysts said that sterling could be in for more losses in the near term.

"In the case of cable, the dollar was at extreme undervaluation levels ... so from a longer term view the pair could be in for more adjustment," said Ian Stannard, senior currency strategist at BNP Paribas.

Sterling <GBP=> tumbled 1 percent to $1.8005 by 0844 GMT, according to Reuters data.

Given that U.S. markets are closed for a national holiday on Monday, market participants said that the UK currency could be in for more losses when New York traders return to work on Tuesday.

Gains against the UK currency helped to push the dollar index .DXY up 0.3 percent to 77.428, approaching 77.619 touched last week for the first time since late December.

The euro <EUR=> slipped nearly 0.2 percent to $1.4646, staying close to a six-month low of $1.4567 hit last week.

Traders offered little initial reaction to a slight upward revision to euro zone manufacturing PMI figures, which came in at 47.6 in August from an initial reading of 47.5 [nLS602905].

OIL CONCERNS

U.S. crude oil prices CLc1 climbed as much as around 1.5 percent, after the closure of U.S. oil production and refinery facilities in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav raised supply concerns.

"U.S. weather forecasting has become a global preoccupation as the markets fret about potential hurricane damage to the US energy sector infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico," analysts at Calyon wrote in a research note.

The dollar has rallied broadly over the past month, benefiting from signs that the U.S. economy's weakness was spreading to other major economies.

But the U.S. currency <JPY=> fell 0.8 percent to 107.86 yen, as a slide in European shares , which followed their Asian counterparts lowers, spurred an unwinding in risky carry trades, which involve selling the yen for assets in higher-yielding currencies.

The yen had gained roughly 0.8 percent against high-yielding currencies like the Australian and New Zealand dollars as well as sterling, boosted after a fall in European stock markets, which were following their Asian counterparts lower on Monday.

"As the global slowdown spreads and weighs on equities markets, risk aversion will likely support the yen," said Hideki Hayashi, chief economist at Shinko Securities.

(Editing by Victoria Main)

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