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Wednesday November 19, 2008 - 21:41:20 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-US dollar slips against yen, up versus euro

Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:37pm EST

* Fear of global slowdown lifts yen and dollar

* U.S. consumer prices tumble in October

* US auto sector, commercial property a worry

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click on FXNEWS (Updates prices, adds comment, changes byline)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, Nov 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar slipped versus the yen on Wednesday, as worries grew about the ailing U.S. auto industry and a record slide in U.S. consumer prices fanned fears of a deeper recession.

The euro, meanwhile, weakened against the dollar as worries about a worsening global slowdown prompted investors to shun stocks and other risky assets for the safety of U.S. Treasuries.

Wall Street shares ended sharply lower amid uncertainty about a proposed rescue package for the auto industry, with the Dow index closing below 8,000 points for the first time since March 2003.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve's meeting last month released on Wednesday further added to the bleak global economic story.

The Fed said U.S. economic data in the run-up to the next meeting in December would show significant weakness and could well mean that the bank may need to cut its benchmark interest rate target from an already low 1.0 percent. For story, click on [ID:nWEQ000403].

Safe-haven capital flows have also benefited the Japanese currency as investors, in times of stress in financial markets, tend to sell assets financed with the cheaply-borrowed yen.

"The forex story has become a subsidiary one to the performance of the equity market, which in turn is playing second fiddle to the day two 'we need more money' discussions on Capitol Hill," said Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst, at Interactive Brokers in Greenwich, Connecticut.

"The dollar remains bid for its safe-haven status while the yen remains the safety valve against equity market losses. Neither currency can lose much more in terms of yield."

In late afternoon trading, the dollar fell 1.2 percent to 95.79 yen <JPY=>, while the euro fell 2.0 percent to 119.94 yen <EURJPY=>.

Overall the U.S. has been in an uptrend in the past three months, seeing a two year high in early November, based on the Intercontinental Exchange's dollar index .DXY.

DEFLATION RISK, AUTO SECTOR WOES

Sterling was little changed against the greenback at $1.4970 <GBP=>, after trading higher for most of the session.

The British currency had risen despite minutes from this month's Bank of England policy meeting showing policy-makers unanimously agreed to cut interest rates by 150 basis points and even discussed a bigger cut [ID:nLJ451755].

The general market unease about the dollar was also sparked partly by problems in the U.S. commercial real estate sector, analysts said, while the U.S. consumer price index fall in October, reported earlier on Wednesday, stirred not only recession fears but concerns about deflation as well.

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn on Wednesday also warned against deflation, saying the risk has risen in recent months and policy-makers should be vigilant to ensure the phenomenon does not become sustained.

"The fact the deflation appears to be mentioned increasingly by Fed officials suggests the risks are tangible and the Fed would not hesitate to move on to further non-conventional measures such as quantitative easing," said currency strategists at Wells Fargo in New York in a note.

The fate of the struggling U.S. auto industry was another worry for investors, as automakers may fail to win emergency government loans. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have warned that bankruptcy for one or more would lead to massive job losses.

Executives from all three companies have been testifying before Congress in the last two days to press their case for $25 billion in emergency loans.

Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at The Bank of New York-Mellon, said bankruptcy for any of them "could prove to be the next Lehman Brothers because of the systemic risk their failure would create." (Additional reporting by Steven C. Johnson)


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