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Monday December 8, 2008 - 09:38:03 GMT
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FOREX NEWSX-Dlr, yen fall; hope of U.S. auto deal drives stocks

Mon Dec 8, 2008 4:08am EST

* Euro gains 1.2 pct vs dlr <EUR=>, 2 pct vs yen <EURJPY=R>

* Hope of bailout for U.S. carmakers boosts sentiment

* European stocks up 5.8 pct as risk aversion drops

(Recasts, changes byline, dateline, previous TOKYO

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The dollar and the yen fell sharply against the euro on Monday as talk of an imminent bailout deal for stricken U.S. automakers pushed equities higher and helped to quell extreme levels of risk aversion.

European shares rose 5.8 percent in early trade, as the low-yielding Japanese and U.S. currencies fell while perceived higher risk units such as the pound and Australian dollar jumped.

White House and congressional negotiators sought on Sunday to settle remaining differences over an emergency rescue for the struggling auto industry [ID:nN07460314].

Hopes for a bailout gained traction after data on Friday showing the U.S. economy lost half a million jobs encouraged U.S. lawmakers to act.

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama also said on Saturday that his plan to create at least 2.5 million new jobs included the largest infrastructure investment since the 1950s and a huge effort to reduce U.S. government energy use.

"We are seeing a less risk averse mentality, and the U.S. dollar, which was seen as a safe haven trade, has suffered as a result," State Street currency strategist Lee Ferridge said.

"There is potential optimism that a lot of the bad news has now been priced in to the market," he said.

At 0850 GMT, the euro <EUR=> rose 1.2 percent against the dollar to a high of $1.2899, its strongest for more than a week, and gained 2 percent against the yen <EURJPY=R> to 120.77.

The pound, viewed as a riskier currency, gained 1.5 percent against the dollar to $1.4977, while the higher-yielding Australian dollar <AUD=> jumped 3 percent to $0.6669.

Against the yen, the dollar gained ground, rising 1 percent to 93.73 yen <JPY=>.

Stock market gains are seen as a sign of easing risk aversion and can curb demand for the yen, which tends to grow when risk-taking declines and carry trades are unwound.

"Higher stocks are driving everything at the moment and currencies are trading in line with this, with higher yielders gaining and lower yielders on the defensive," said Adam Cole, global head of FX Strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

Analysts do not expect the dollar to continue losing ground, however, as major concerns remain about the possibility of a deep global recession.

U.S. non-farm payrolls figures on Friday showed a massive decline of 533,000 in November, the biggest drop in over three decades and far worse than market commentators had predicted [nN07460314]. (Reporting by Jessica Mortimer; editing by Tony Austin)

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