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Tuesday January 13, 2009 - 11:31:35 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar hits 1-mth high vs euro on risk aversion

FOREX-Dollar hits 1-mth high vs euro on risk aversion

Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:54am EST

* Dollar hits 1-month high vs euro on risk aversion

* High yielders such as NZ, Australian dollars suffer

* Sliding stocks, oil prices keep risk demand low (Changes dateline, byline, releads, adds comment, updates throughout; previous TOKYO)

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The dollar rallied broadly on Tuesday, hitting one-month highs against the euro plus the New Zealand and Australian dollars as struggling shares and commodity prices cranked up demand to unwind risky positions.

The euro fell as low as $1.3221, according to Reuters data, its weakest level since mid-December, before a European Central Bank policy meeting on Thursday when analysts expect the Governing Council to cut interest rates by 50 basis points from 2.5 percent.

(For details of poll please double click on [ECB/INT])

The euro also came under selling pressure after Spain on Monday became the third euro zone country since Friday to be warned by Standard & Poor's rating agency that its credit rating is under threat from the global credit crisis. [ID:nLC477283]

"There's been a moderate rise in risk aversion. The dollar is still considered a safe haven compared to the euro," said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of currency research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "The market is still confident that the U.S. can better deal with a recession than the euro zone."

The New Zealand dollar was battered after credit ratings S&P also warned on Tuesday of a possible downgrade to the country's relatively high-yielding foreign-currency debt [nWEL411681].

By 0803 GMT, the euro <EUR=> traded 0.7 percent lower at $1.3274, having hit its one-month low in early London trade. Against the yen <EURJPY=R>, it slipped by the same percentage to 118.39 yen, having fallen to 117.69 yen, likewise its weakest in a month.

A 1.3 percent slide in European shares in early trade, along with a 3 percent fall in U.S. crude oil prices, CLc1 reminded investors that the global economy is rapidly deteriorating, prompting them to dump higher-yielding currencies.

The New Zealand dollar <NZD=D4> tumbled roughly 3 percent to $0.5556, its weakest level since mid-December, while the Australian dollar <AUD=D4> fell more than 1 percent to $0.6724, also a one-month low.

The high-yielding currencies also hit one-month lows against the yen <NZDJPY=R> <AUDJPY=R> as investors unwound yen carry trades, in which the low-yielding Japanese currency was used to buy assets in higher-yielding ones.

The U.S. dollar was little changed against the yen at 89.20 yen <JPY=>, but hovered near 88.89 yen hit on electronic trading platform EBS on Monday, its weakest level in four weeks.

Investors awaited a speech by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet at 0900 GMT for any hints on his outlook for the euro zone economy and rates.

Federal Reserve President Ben Bernanke also speaks in London at 1300 GMT. Investors are awaiting any more clues on plans for quantitative easing measures the U.S. central bank might take after slashing interest rates to virtually zero last month.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu, editing by David Stamp)

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