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Friday September 5, 2008 - 11:42:33 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS-Dlr at 11-mth high vs euro; spotlight on US jobs

Fri Sep 5, 2008 12:38pm EDT

(changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

* Euro hits 11-month lows as dollar revival gathers pace

* Dollar index rises to 79.06 .DXY

* Economists expect 75,000 U.S. jobs were shed in August

* Yen benefits from global carry, leverage unwind

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - The dollar surged to an 11-month high versus a weak euro on Friday, with traders continuing to buy the greenback ahead of the August U.S. employment report, while a flight from riskier carry trades lifted the yen.

Economic headwinds continued to shake broad market sentiment as escalating worries about global growth spooked investors, leading to a 3 percent slide on Wall Street on Thursday. A sell-off followed in Asia and European trading.

Market players said investors were exiting leveraged carry trades, or positions funded by borrowing yen at low rates to buy higher yielding currencies and commodities.

This trading pattern has until recently boosted the dollar too, as U.S. investors liquidate holdings of foreign assets and repatriate the funds back home.

Two reports Thursday on the U.S. labour market reignited fears that tightening credit conditions will herald another wave of economic weakness, turning all eyes towards the U.S. non-farm payrolls report at 1230 GMT.

Economists polled by Reuters expect that 75,000 jobs were shed in August, but a figure meeting those expectations, or even a slightly bigger fall, was not seen blowing the dollar's resurgence off course.

"You would need to see some significant triple digit number to really derail optimism that the U.S. is going to skirt the worst of the global downturn and accentuate the risk that the economy is in greater trouble," Rabobank strategist Jeremy Stretch said.

At 1108 GMT, the euro <EUR=> was down 0.1 percent at $1.4235, having traded at its lowest since October 2007 at $1.4197.

The dollar index .DXY was at 78.89, having traded at a year-high of 79.066 earlier on Friday.

Sterling <GBP=> was steady at a tad higher at $1.7611, while the dollar <JPY=> was down 0.1 percent at 106.25 yen.

On Thursday the European Central Bank left interest rates on hold at 4.25 percent, as did the Bank of England at 5 percent.

CRUMBLING APPETITE

The yen rallied broadly, hitting two-year highs against the Australian and New Zealand dollars, and a near five-year high against sterling.

Traders cited talk of more hedge funds going under after news that Ospraie Management LLC, the world's biggest commodities hedge fund, was forced to close its flagship fund this week.

Bill Gross, chief investment officer at PIMCO, the world's largest bond fund, said on Thursday that the U.S. government should give the Treasury the authority to buy debt and other assets to halt a "financial tsunami". [ID:nN04303765]

The focus on Friday will be split between financial and economic issues. While economists expect a fall in U.S. employment in August, the unemployment rate is set to hold steady at 5.7 percent.

Whatever the numbers, currency market conditions remain volatile and sharp swings can't be discounted.

"The dollar's resilience in the face of the plunge in U.S. share prices and continued paring back of rate hike expectations is noteworthy," Brown Brothers Harriman strategists said in a note.

Meanwhile, the dollar's sharp rally -- it's risen some 10 percent against a basket of currencies in the past month or so -- has prompted some central banks to sell dollars in order to prevent their own currencies from weakening too much.

South Korea's central bank reportedly intervened selling dollars again on Friday, up to $3 billion, some London traders estimated. The Bank of Korea's dollar selling intervention so far this year now exceeds $30 billion. See [ID:nSEO130769].

Russia's central bank stepped into the market on Thursday and sold an estimated $4 billion to steady the rouble, which sank to its lowest since February 2007. See [ID:nL4107355].

(Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever in London)

(Reporting by Veronica Brown; Editing by Victoria Main)

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