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Monday December 8, 2008 - 21:30:57 GMT
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FOREX Nerws-US dollar falls as stimulus plans boost risk-taking

 

Mon Dec 8, 2008 4:05pm EST

* US dollar tumbles vs euro as risk appetite recovers

* Obama's planned infrastructure spending cheers markets

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

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click on FXNEWS

(Updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar fell on Monday as President-elect Barack Obama's plan for massive infrastructure spending lifted global stock markets, spurring investors to reduce holdings of safe-haven dollars and take on more risk.

A Democratic bailout plan for the three U.S. automakers also whetted global risk appetite, pushing the dollar and yen lower at the expense of higher-yielding currencies such as the euro, sterling and Australian dollar.

The euro rose 1.6 percent to $1.2940 <EUR=>, its best daily gain in two weeks. Analysts said the twin hopes of an automaker rescue and more government spending calmed market turmoil that had sent yields on three-month Treasury bills to near zero.

"With the news that a very large fiscal stimulus package is being planned by the Obama administration, investors are starting to anticipate less bad news in 2009, and that has generated a pop in risk appetite," said Robert Blake, senior currency strategist at State Street Global Markets in Boston.

Obama, who takes office Jan. 20, has talked of plans to create 2.5 million new jobs by 2011 and to launch the largest infrastructure investment since the 1950s. [ID:nN05458678]

Blake said hopes of new construction projects helped lift currencies from commodity-producing countries such as New Zealand <NZD=> and Australia <AUD=> on Monday. Both were up between 2 percent and 3 percent against the U.S. dollar.

Elsewhere, the euro rose 1.7 percent to 120.28 yen <EURJPY=> after earlier soaring as high 120.99, while the dollar was little edged up 0.1 percent to 92.96 yen <JPY=>.

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

The equities rally also benefited the pound, which gained 1 percent against the dollar to $1.4910 <GBP=>, while the dollar fell 1.2 percent to 1.2049 Swiss francs <CHF=>.

BAILOUT EYED

Congressional Democrats said on Monday they had sent a $15 billion auto sector rescue package proposal to the White House for consideration [ID:nN07460314].

Hopes for a bailout gained traction after Friday's disappointing employment figures encouraged U.S. lawmakers to take action to shield the economy from the credit crunch and a global recession.

Vassili Serebriakov, currency strategist at Wells Fargo in New York, said some of the day's optimism was tied "to the fact that the U.S. auto industry appears likely to avoid bankruptcy -- at least for now."

Despite the dollar's drop on Monday, analysts do not expect the U.S. currency to continue losing ground, as concerns remain about a deep global recession, which many say will keep investors wary of taking on too much risk.

"I continue to believe that more material bad news for the global economy is still ahead of us," said Stephen Jen, global head of currency research at Morgan Stanley in London. "In the new year, I see the dollar and the yen higher against most currencies, especially emerging market currencies."

(Additional reporting by Naomi Tajitsu in London) (Reporting by Nick Olivari)

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