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Monday February 9, 2009 - 11:29:53 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen gains as US delays bank plan announcement

Mon Feb 9, 2009 6:22am EST

* Yen gains on disappointment at US bank bailout plan delay

* Dollar erases gains vs euro, stg; Barclays results cheered

* Focus on US financial stability plan to be outlined Tues

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The yen gained broadly on Monday as a delay in the announcement of the U.S. bank bailout package knocked market sentiment and benefited assets which are perceived to be low-risk.

The dollar, however, erased earlier gains against the pound and the euro as investors welcomed news Barclays Bank had booked a bigger-than-expected annual profit of over 6 billion pounds and said credit market losses were waning. [ID:nL9169904]

On a quiet day for news, investors nevertheless remained cautious, keeping European stocks in the red and propping up the Japanese yen.

Investors were jittery after the Obama administration on Sunday pushed back the announcement of the bank rescue plan until Tuesday as it pressed lawmakers to settle their differences over the economic stimulus plan. [ID:nN08495108]

The announcement had originally been scheduled for Monday, but the Senate will be spending Monday focusing on the stimulus package ahead of a vote on Tuesday.

"There remains a risk that Obama might not pull through the package or that he might have to make significant changes," Bank of Scotland Treasury Services currency analyst Naeem Wahid said.

At 1101 GMT, the dollar was down 0.5 percent against the yen <JPY=> to 91.50, while the euro was off 0.5 percent to 118.45 yen <EURJPY=>. Both were above earlier session lows of around 90.90 and 117.07 yen respectively.

Against the dollar, the euro was up 0.1 percent to $1.2943 <EUR=>, while the pound rose 0.4 percent to $1.4859 <GBP=> after both began the day in negative territory.

Bank of Scotland's Wahid said there is a general sense in the market that recently the pound has been oversold and the yen overbought.

"The world hasn't really changed since last week, but there is a feeling that cable (sterling/dollar) and dollar/yen are the most oversold pairs," he said.

US MEASURES EYED

With little on the economic calendar for the time being, market focus is centred on the prospect of the U.S. agreeing a huge economic stimulus package and a keenly awaited bank bailout plan.

Grim U.S. data on Friday which showed the U.S. economy lost nearly 600,000 jobs last month unusually bolstered riskier assets, including currencies such as the euro and the pound, as investors hoped this would speed the passing of the package.

This took the dollar to a one-month high against the yen, but investors were dealt a blow by news of the delay to the plan.

The U.S. financial stability plan is due to be outlined by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at 1600 GMT on Tuesday after a Senate vote on the economic stimulus package.

Analysts noted there could be scope for riskier assets to resume their gains once the U.S. fiscal stimulus and bank rescue deals are announced.

"The plans are likely to be quite bold and there is scope for a bear market rally in risky assets," BTM-UFJ currency economist Lee Hardman said.

Meanwhile, investors continued to be reminded of the grave situation facing the world's economies.

Figures released Monday showed German exports fell sharply in December after a record decline the previous month [ID:nL9582808].

Figures out of Japan showed the country's current account surplus fell 92.1 percent in December from a year earlier, while corporate bankruptcies soared in January [ID:nT103660]. (Reporting by Jessica Mortimer; editing by Chris Pizzey)

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