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Thursday October 16, 2008 - 12:17:18 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar up vs yen, recession concerns rise

Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:58am EDT

* Dlr up vs yen, recession worries mount

* Risk aversion pushes stocks lower

* Euro/dlr erases losses in volatile trade

(Adds comment, updates throughout)

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The dollar rose against the yen on Thursday on falling share prices as the possibility that the banking sector may be salvaged did little to quell worries that the global economy is teetering on the verge of recession.

European shares tumbled roughly 3 percent, taking a cue from a big drop in Asian markets on growing fears of recession. This supported the dollar, considered by many as a safe-haven currency, although gains were limited in whippy trade.

Governments around the world have come to the rescue of banks battered by the credit crunch, which has stemmed a bout of panicked selling in high-risk, high-yielding currencies as interbank lending rates slowly creep lower.

Analysts said investors are now focussing on the massive toll such bailout plans will likely have on real economies.

"The theme this week is a return to fundamentals," said James Shugg, international economist at Westpac.

"It looks like we're going to sort out the banking sector. What people are now realising is that even with that, we're probably going to see a recession."

Other analysts said with the focus shifting to deteriorating economic health, erratic current movements would likely continue as investors determine which currencies had the most to lose from a recession.

The dollar <JPY=> rose 1.0 percent to 100.65 yen, recovering from a seven-month low of 97.88 yen touched last week. Earlier in the day, the pair climbed as high as 100.76 yen.

Against a basket of six major currencies, the U.S. currency .DXY eased 0.2 percent to 82.089, having climbed as high as 82.840 and hovering in range of 83.191 hit on Friday -- the highest since June 2007.

The dollar was generally supported even after figures showed that U.S. retail sales last month dropped the most in more than three years, while Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke issued a dour assessment of the world's biggest economy.

"We know the U.S. economy is very weak and the banking sector is struggling. But that means as well that U.S. investors would like to take their assets home," said Hans-Guenter Redeker, chief forex strategist at BNP Paribas, explaining the dollar's strength.

Readings of U.S. consumer prices, industrial production and jobless claims due later in the day may offer more clues into how much the economy is slowing, market participants said.

The euro rose 0.4 percent to $1.3513 <EUR=>, having earlier fallen to $1.3347 and towards a 1-1/2 year low of around $1.3257 hit on Friday. It gained 1.3 percent versus the yen to 136.00 yen <EURJPY=> but was still not far off the three-year lows of 132.25 yen set last Friday.


Announcements that a Swiss bank was being partly nationalised and that Hungary had received an emergency loan from the European Central bank underlined ongoing financial instability in Europe. The Swiss franc slipped to its lowest level of the year against the dollar after the Swiss government said it would take a near 10 percent stake in UBS (UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) as the bank and its rival Credit Suisse raise funds to help them survive the ongoing banking turmoil [nLG729815].

The dollar <CHF=> climbed as high as 1.1488 francs, its strongest since late 2007, but the euro was little changed against the Swiss currency <EURCHF=> and hovered in sight of a four-year low hit last week.

Some analysts said the Swissie was supported against the euro on the belief the move to partly nationalise UBS strengthened the franc's status as a safe-haven currency.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian forint steadied against the euro <EURHUF=> after the country's central bank struck a deal with the ECB to borrow up to 5 billion euros to boost liquidity in its markets and unfreeze its bond market [nLG552658].

The Swedish crown <EURSEK=> hit a record low to the euro at 10.1450 crowns as the currency was dogged by worries about the economy given rising import prices and limited room for rates cuts. Data showing rising unemployment bolstered such concerns. (Additional reporting by Ian Chua; Editing by Ron Askew)

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