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Monday September 29, 2008 - 11:16:58 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro, stg hit slopes vs dlr as bank crisis spreads

Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:10am EDT

* Euro falls 2 pct vs dlr after Fortis, B&B bailouts

* Sterling set for biggest 1-day fall vs dlr since mid 1993

* U.S. lawmakers set to vote on $700 bln bailout fund

* Investors ponder impact of US plan (Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The euro and sterling tumbled more than 2 percent against the dollar on Monday as the impact of the latest financial storm fanned out beyond the United States, forcing bank nationalisations in Europe.

European banking sector troubles, which also sent share prices diving, threatened to overshadow the proposed and hard fought $700 billion U.S. bank bailout deal that looked set for approval later on Monday.

The dollar's rally against the single European currency deepened as the Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg governments nationalised parts of banking and insurance group Fortis (FOR.BR: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and agreed to inject 11.2 billion euros into the financial group. Click on [ID:nLT408294].

Sterling was on track for its biggest one-day percentage fall against the dollar <GBP=> as troubles at UK lender Bradford & Bingley (BB.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) led the UK government to nationalise its lending activities. Retail branches and deposits were sold to Spanish bank Santander (SAN.MC: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). See [ID:nDARLINGBB].

And Iceland's banking sector stress was highlighted as its government took control of Glitnir, its third biggest bank (GLB.IC: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Analysts said the latest developments snapped attention back to the international nature of the financial crisis, compared with a recent tendency to concentrate on the United States.

"I think there's been a very lax attitude over the last couple of weeks to suggest that its been seen as a purely U.S.-centric problem," Rabobank markets strategist Jeremy Stretch said.

"We've gone from a piece-meal response in the U.S. to something more substantive with the bailout package, whether it works or not is a different matter," he added.

By 1100 GMT, the euro had fallen 1.8 percent against the dollar <EUR=> to $1.4347, having earlier fallen more than 2 percent to a 10-day low at $1.4301 according to Reuters data.

Sterling dipped below $1.80 to a 10-day low at $1.7962 <GBP=>, setting it on course for its biggest one-day percentage fall since mid-1993.

RESCUE PACKAGE, A CURE-ALL?

U.S. lawmakers geared up for a possible vote on Monday on creating the massive $700 billion government fund.

Congressional leaders from both parties said they had reached a tentative agreement early on Sunday, but questions abound as to whether the rescue plan, which aims to use taxpayer funds to buy up toxic mortgage debt, would restore confidence to shaky markets and head off a deeper downturn.

"Obviously progress of the Fed's bailout plan when it is presented on Capitol Hill later today will provide some key direction for markets," said Gary Thomson, head of sales trading at CMC Markets.

"Just how sustainable the dollar's rally will be may well depend on the speed of progress of the bill but one thing that seems certain is that the greenback may well be on the front foot once more," he added.

Reflecting the dollar's broad rally, the high-yielding Australian <AUD=> and New Zealand dollars <NZD=> fell 2.0 and 1.5 percent respectively versus the U.S. currency, which also gain 1.4 percent against the safe-haven Swiss franc <CHF=>.

But while the Swiss franc was depressed, aversion to risk boosted the low-yielding Japanese yen as share prices fell.

The euro slipped 1.6 percent to 152.36 yen <EURJPY=>, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 3.16 percent at 1069.70.

"It looked on Friday as if the passage of the (U.S. bailout) plan would cause the yen to suffer, but there has been such a run of names in trouble that the yen impact has been small," Calyon senior currency strategist Daragh Maher said. (Additional reporting by Jessica Mortimer in London) (Reporting by Veronica Brown; Editing by Chris Pizzey)

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