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Friday September 26, 2008 - 12:14:15 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Risk aversion boosts yen after U.S. bailout stalls

Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:54am EDT

* Yen gains more than 1 percent vs dollar, euro

* Investors shun risk, high yielding currencies sink

* Euro weighed on worries over European banks

* U.S. bailout plan talks to resume later on Friday (Recasts, updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Tamawa Kadoya

LONDON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The Japanese yen gained broadly on Friday as investors cut risk exposure due to the stalling of a proposed $700 billion financial system bailout and closure of Washington Mutual in the biggest ever U.S. bank failure.

Investors rushed to buy the low-yielding safe haven Japanese currency, sending it more than one percent higher against the euro and dollar as European shares fell 2 percent, led by declines in banking stocks.

Shares in Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis (FOR.BR: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) dropped 12 percent on Friday after hitting a 14-year low the previous day on fears that the bank could become the next victim of the financial market turmoil. Fortis denied liquidity problems. "Concerns over the European banking system have added to jitters over the U.S. bailout plan and the yen is picking up renewed support," said Ian Stannard, senior foreign exchange strategist at BNP Paribas.

At 1125 GMT, the dollar was down 1 percent against the yen <JPY=> at 105.31 yen, while the euro lost 1.2 percent to 153.77 yen <EURJPY=>. The euro was inched down against the dollar <EUR=> to $1.4601.

Meanwhile, the high-yielding Australian dollar <AUD=> fell more than 1 percent against the U.S. dollar and more than 1.5 percent against the yen <AUDJPY=> as investors unwound bets on higher-risk currencies.

Central banks coordinated to provide further liquidity on Friday as fund demand ahead of the quarter-end exacerbated already dysfunctional money markets. [ID:nSP346519].

U.S. DEAL TO BE REACHED

Market participants still expect the $700 billion U.S. bank bailout package to be agreed in some form and they are unwilling to adopt big positions as a result, analysts said.

Talks over the plan will resume on Friday.

"The overwhelming sense is that some deal will be struck," Standard Chartered currency strategist Rob Minikin said.

"But the general feeling is that because it is ending up as an uneasy compromise, it is likely to be less satisfactory than the clearcut Paulson solution."

News of the Washington Mutual failure further damaged sentiment, although the third-largest U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said it bought the deposits of the bank, which had seen its stock price virtually wiped out because of massive amounts of bad mortgages [ID:nLQ348949].

Coming up is the release of final U.S. second quarter GDP data, while the latest University of Michigan consumer confidence survey will be eyed for a sign of how the recent financial market turbulence is feeding through into sentiment.

"The Michigan consumer sentiment reading ... could present some short term trading opportunities," Gary Thomson, head of sales trading at CMC Markets said in a note to clients.

"Confidence has been improving of late but the landscape has changed dramatically this month. Whether this will be picked up in the September survey remains to be seen but anything that's pointing even marginally lower this time around stands to be amplified significantly in the October reading". (Additional reporting by Jessica Mortimer; editing by Patrick Graham)

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