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Tuesday January 27, 2009 - 11:27:40 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro rises, supported by strong Ifo; yen slips

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:42am EST

* Euro hits 1-week high vs dollar, yen; risk aversion ebbs

* Japan aid to firms boost share markets

* Euro supported by surprising rise in German Ifo

(Adds comment, updates prices)

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - The euro hit a one-week high versus the dollar and the yen on Tuesday on a surprise rise in German corporate sentiment, while easing risk aversion kept the Japanese currency under broad selling pressure.

German's Ifo economic research institute said that its business climate index rose to 83.0 in January from an upwardly revised 82.7 in December, exceeding forecasts and posting its first improvement in eight months [ID:nBEB002299].

The figure suggested that businesses are slowly gaining confidence following the government's announcement of an economic stimulus package, although analysts warned against becoming too optimistic about the German economy.

"It's a short-term relief to see that there hasn't been a further deterioration from the December reading but whether it is sustainable is rather debatable," said Audrey Childe-Freeman, senior FX strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in London.

Pointing out that the rise was likely due to a weaker euro <EUR=> at the start of the year and lower oil prices, she added: "We can't get carried away. The core data for Germany remains poor and the outlook for the German economy remains rather bleak."

The yen fell broadly after a pledge by the Japanese government to inject capital into ailing companies prompted some investors to take on riskier trades, which helped to support the euro and sterling.

A slight improvement in risk demand prompted some selling in the dollar ahead of a two-day policy meeting by the Federal Reserve that begins on Wednesday. Investors are waiting for the post-meeting statement to see whether the U.S. central bank will implement more quantitative easing measures to help the economy.

By 1017 GMT, the euro <EUR=> traded 0.8 percent higher at $1.3270, having climbed as high as $1.3328, its strongest in a week, after the Ifo figures were released. While the pair pulled away from the high, it kept its distance from a six-week low around $1.27 hit late last week.

The euro traded 1 percent higher at 118.40 yen <EURJPY=R> after hitting the day's high of 119.45 yen, a level last reached on Jan. 19.

The yen stumbled due to improving risk demand after Japan launched a $16.7 billion scheme to buy shares in firms whose future has been threatened by the financial crisis [ID:nT89837].

"The news from Japan is positive for risk appetite, and has provided a firm undertone in the market," said Anders Soderberg, chief currency strategy at SEB Merchant Banking in Stockholm.

The low-yielding yen often takes its cue from perceived swings in investors' risk appetite and has tended to fall against higher-yielding currencies when risk tolerance increases.


The euro was supported, but gains were capped as European shares reversed early gains to trade 0.5 percent lower .FTEU3, having failed to take a cue from a rally in Tokyo stocks.

Improving risk appetite pushed the yen lower across the board, boosting the dollar by as much as 1 percent to a one-week high of 90.07 yen <JPY=>, before pulling back to 89.42 yen.

Sterling and higher-yielding currencies like the Australian and New Zealand dollars each rose around 1.5 percent against the yen. The pound <GBP=D4> rose as high as $1.4242, pulling further away from a 23-year low of $1.35 hit last week.

Still, analysts said a further improvement in risk appetite was unlikely, given persistent stress in global financial sectors and the global economy's decline into recession.

Market participants were anticipating the Fed's policy statement due on Wednesday, when the central bank is widely expected to keep rates on hold in a zero-0.25 percent range following an aggressive campaign of rate cuts.

Analysts expect the Fed will suggest that rates will stay low for some time, and they will scrutinise its statement for clues into how policymakers may expand support for credit markets as the central bank tries to steer the economy away from a deep recession.

In addition, market participants are waiting to see how seriously officials are looking into the option of buying up domestic government bonds, given an expected surge in debt issuance to fund economic stimulus plans.

(Additional reporting by Veronica Brown; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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