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Wednesday November 26, 2008 - 10:14:25 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen up as Fed stimulus weighed; EU plan awaited

Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:50am EST

* Yen supported on risk aversion, high-yielders slide

* China cuts interest rates by 108 bps, yen pares gains

* Fed rescue plan raises concerns about U.S. balance sheet

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - The yen rose against the euro and higher-yielding currencies on Wednesday, with struggling European shares helping to spur risk aversion ahead of expected economic stimulus measures by the European Union.

The dollar was on the back foot against the yen after an $800 billion U.S. plan to rescue its debt market raised concerns about the health of the nation's balance sheet.

The yen pared some gains after China surprised markets with its largest interest rate cut since 1997, but remained supported against the dollar and the euro.

Analysts said the Federal Reserve's plan unveiled on Tuesday to buy up mortgage-related debt and support the consumer debt securities market was another decisive act but it did little to boost the dollar on worries it may exhaust U.S. coffers.

"It's obviously positive for some aspects of the economy, but people are starting to worry about balance sheet risks ... In general, problems on the U.S. economic front haven't changed at all," said Geoffrey Yu, currency strategist at UBS in London.

The euro <EURJPY=R> dropped 0.7 percent to 123.55 yen, while the dollar <JPY=> slipped 0.2 percent to 95.02 yen.

The yen pared some gains after China cut its one-year deposit and lending rates by 108 basis points [nOSL009022], helping to pull the euro off a session low of 122.84 yen.

"The China rate cut reinforces the notion of global coordinated action to counter the downside risks to the global economy, which will erode the attraction of the yen safe haven quality," said Lena Komileva, G7 market economist at Tullett Prebon.

The single currency <EUR=> slipped half a percent against the dollar at $1.2958.

Risk aversion stung high-yielding currencies like the Australian dollar, which fell 0.6 percent against the U.S. dollar <AUD=> and tumbled as much as around 0.8 percent against the yen <AUDJPY=R>.

High-yielders have come under particular pressure against the yen, as investors continue to unwind carry trades in which they used the low-yielding Japanese currency to purchase assets in currencies with higher yields.


The EU will announce a plan later to stimulate the bloc's economy, which French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said may amount to more than the expected 130 billion euros [ID:nPAB004527].

Analysts doubted it would do much to boost the euro, which has suffered as the euro zone has slipped into recession.

"Given it has been so long flagged and has felt like a lengthy process to even get to this point, it is questionable whether its delivery will indeed restore confidence," analysts at Calyon said in a research note.

Economic weakness has raised calls for the European Central Bank to continue cutting interest rates. Data on Wednesday showed falling consumer prices in German states, indicating that falling inflation is paving the way for more cuts.

ECB Governing Council member Axel Weber, often seen as one of the central bank's most hawkish figures, said in a newspaper interview published late on Tuesday that the bank had room to further lower rates, after cutting them by 50 basis points to 3.25 percent earlier in the month [ID:nLQ715909].

Investors will also await a raft of U.S economic data later in the day, including a weekly reading of the mortgage market and jobless claims and monthly figures on personal income, spending, durable goods and new home sales. (Additional reporting by Jessica Mortimer, editing by Mike Peacock)

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