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Wednesday December 24, 2008 - 13:02:41 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS-Dlr eases vs yen in thin trade; US data eyed

Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:28am EST

(All UK financial markets are closed on Thursday and Friday for the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays. The markets will reopen on Monday, Dec. 29. FX coverage from London will end around midday on Wednesday, and resume on Dec. 29. Coverage from Asia will continue as normal throughout the period, and coverage from the United States will resume on Friday.)

* Dollar eases vs yen <JPY=>, currency basket .DXY

* Euro steady, Trichet offers little hint on ECB policy

* Sterling on defensive after poor housing survey

* Focus on U.S. spending, durable goods data

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

By Tamawa Desai

LONDON, Dec 24 (Reuters) - The dollar fell against the yen and a basket of currencies on Wednesday as investors anticipated more grim U.S. economic data, although losses were limited as market players wound up positions early in thin holiday trade.

In quiet trade ahead of the Christmas holidays, traders awaited readings on U.S. spending, durable goods and jobless claims, following figures on Tuesday that confirmed a U.S. economic contraction and dismal readings on housing.

"The failure of housing figures to hold up will inhibit economic recovery in the United States and spillover effects, such as reduced spending on goods and services due to declining home wealth, will be felt in the coming months," said Geoffrey Yu, strategist at UBS in London.

By 1103 GMT, the dollar was down 0.4 percent on the day at 90.45 yen <JPY=>. It fell 0.3 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY at 81.151.

The euro was little changed at around $1.40 <EUR=>, after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said late on Tuesday that the central bank will do what is necessary to maintain price stability but refrained from commenting directly on the policy outlook [ID:nLN48595]

ECB Governing Council members Ewald Nowotny told Austrian television on Wednesday that further interest rate cuts cannot be ruled out, but the central bank did not want to be seen as pre-committing on possible rate cuts. [ID:nWLA4245]

Meanwhile, sterling was on the defensive again after a survey showed UK house prices would fall by 10 percent next year. [ID:nLN634241]

That came after data on Tuesday showed the UK economy shrank by a larger-than-expected 0.6 percent in the third quarter.

Sterling was down 0.4 percent at $1.4704 <GBP=> and down 0.7 percent at 95.10 pence against the euro <EURGBP=>, edging near a record low of 95.56 pence.

U.S. data later in the day is expected to show personal income was flat and spending fell 0.7 percent in November.

On the corporate side, durable goods orders are seen dropping 3.0 percent versus a 6.9 percent decline in October.

Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims data is expected to show 560,000 new filings for jobless benefits in the week ended Dec. 20, compared with 554,000 in the prior week. [ECI/US] (Editing by Toby Chopra)

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  • POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: HIGH Tue-- 08:30 GMT GB- CPI top tier confirmation of Inflation.

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