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Friday December 19, 2008 - 21:18:26 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar jumps vs euro, biggest daily gain in 2 months

Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:14pm EST

* ECB deposit rate cut weighs on euro zone currency

* Dollar up vs yen on White House auto aid plan

* Japan cuts benchmark rate 0.1 percent

(Adds comments, updates prices, changes byline)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar jumped against the euro on Friday, posting its biggest daily gain in almost two months, after traders said the greenback's slump earlier this week may have been overdone.

The dollar also gained ground after the U.S. government said it will provide loans to Detroit carmakers crippled by the economic downturn. The Bank of Japan's interest rate cut to nearly zero also lent support to the greenback.

"We've seen an extraordinary amount of volatility over the last few sessions and part of that is due to the fact that it's year-end and month-end for a lot of banks and institutions," said Steven Butler, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotia Capital in Toronto. "It really is about flows and positioning."

The euro also lost ground after the European Central Bank said on Thursday it would reduce the return it offers to those banks that hold cash with it, eroding the appeal of the euro-zone currency.

"What this ECB move did was, for all intents and purposes, it knocked down the euro's interest rate advantage versus the U.S. So it made it less attractive to hold euros," said Ronald Simpson, managing director of global currency analysis at Action Economics, in Tampa, Florida.

In late afternoon trading in New York, the euro <EUR=> was down 2.8 percent at $1.3887 after hitting a low of $1.3826, according to Reuters data. The euro hit $1.4720 on electronic trading platform EBS on Thursday, its strongest since late September.

Despite Friday's pullback, the euro is on track post a weekly gain of more than 3 percent against the dollar.

The euro fell 3.1 percent to 123.79 yen <EURJPY=>.

Analysts said once the year-end flows are out of the way and investors return to their allocation for the coming year, the worsening economic backdrop in the eurozone should come back to weigh on the region's currency.

"The European Central Bank is not done lowering rates yet," said Greg Salvaggio, a vice president for trading at Tempus Consulting in Washington D.C. "That in itself is a negative for the currency."

Salvaggio added he expects the euro to trade in a range of $1.35-$1.37 until the end of the year.


The dollar also found support from news that the U.S. government will offer up to $17.4 billion in loans to the ailing U.S. automakers and expects General Motors (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Chrysler LLC to access the money immediately. See [nPEK94492].

The dollar earlier rose against the yen after the Bank of Japan on Friday cut interest rates to 0.1 percent, taking the policy target rates of Japan and the United States to more or less equal footing. Later the dollar reversed course and was last 0.3 percent lower at 89.08 yen <JPY=>.

"The notional change in Japan's 'call rate' has made the Fed's move to a (zero) to 0.25 percent target range look less severe and the sell off that we saw in dollars post the (Fed's) decision on Tuesday is now somewhat reversing course," said Dustin Reid, senior currency strategist at RBS Global Banking Markets in Chicago.

The yen had surged in recent sessions, climbing to its strongest level in more than 13 years earlier this week, as concerns about the global economy prompted more investors to dump risky positions funded by cheap borrowing in the Japanese currency. (Additional reporting by Wanfeng Zhou; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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