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Friday September 12, 2008 - 12:34:19 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar, yen ease, markets brace for Lehman

Fri Sep 12, 2008 8:02am EDT

* Lehman talk spurs stocks, weigh on dollar, yen

* Dollar index off year-high, euro rebounds from year-low

* Banking issues could overshadow U.S. data

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The dollar and yen fell against the euro on Friday as growing talk of a package to rescue troubled U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers boosted equities and prompted forex dealers to cash in on recent strong rallies.

Losses were pared, however, as talk of an early statement from the embattled bank failed to materialise, although analysts still expect an agreement soon to sell the institution.

With speculation running high as to Lehman's fate, investors look set to take their cue from the banking sector, equity markets and general risk appetite instead of economic news.

Friday's data calendar includes the latest readings of U.S. retail sales, producer prices and University of Michigan consumer sentiment.

Sources say the U.S. Federal Reserve and Treasury are involved in talks with potential suitors for Lehman, which could come to a conclusion this weekend. See [ID:nLC665058].

"While there's a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding what's going to happen with Lehman and what type of deal it might be, if you are an investor and you've sold risky assets over the past month or so, you would take profit on some of those trades," Barclays Capital currency strategist Adarsh Sinha said.

Both the dollar and yen remain firmly on track for solid gains this week, however, fuelled by a flight from risk, unwinding of leveraged positions and falling commodity prices.

At 1154 GMT the dollar index, a measure of the greenback's value against a basket of six major currencies, was down 0.2 percent on the day at 79.647 .DXY. It hit a one-year high of 80.375 on Thursday.

The euro was up 0.3 percent against the dollar at $1.4072 <EUR=>, having hit a year-low of $1.3879 on Thursday.

The euro was up 0.3 percent at 150.82 yen <EURJPY=>, bouncing back from a two-year trough of 147.47 yen on Thursday. The single currency pulled back after hitting a session high of 151.87.

The dollar held steady against the yen at 107.18 yen <JPY=>.


Lehman's share price suffered a body blow this week, having lost around 90 percent of its value since late last year. The bank this week reported more losses and failed to lay out a clear plan on how it will raise much-needed capital, casting serious questions over its viability.

Coming only days after the U.S. government bailed out mortgage giants Fannie Mae FNM and Freddie Mac (FRE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), worries over the U.S. -- and global -- banking system continue to dominate currency market sentiment.

But those worries also sparked a wave of repatriation from U.S. investors to bring cash back home and limit their foreign currency exposure.

The yen has also benefited from investors' deleveraging and cutting risk.

On the economic front, U.S. data dominates on Friday. See [ECON]. The latest employment and trade figures released over the last week suggest the economy remains weak, but Friday's numbers might paint a more positive picture.

"U.S. retail sales should post a good advance in August, aided by rising auto sales. Lower energy prices should drag PPI lower and help provoke some modest improvement in US consumer confidence, though the gains will be hampered by deteriorating labour market conditions," Calyon said in a note to clients.

But if the data are on the soft side, the euro could bounce further and notch up a weekly close above the 100-week moving average, which currently is $1.4128.

This would represent a potentially key bullish technical development -- the euro hasn't had a weekly close below the 100-week moving average for two and a half years. For an analysis, click on [nLC640179]

(Reporting by Veronica Brown; Editing by Victoria Main)

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