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Monday February 9, 2009 - 21:58:49 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar slips, investors look to US bank bailout

Mon Feb 9, 2009 4:45pm EST

* U.S. financial stability plan to be outlined on Tuesday

* U.S. dollar slips, bank package uncertainty

* Euro hits nearly two-week high vs dollar

(Recasts, updates prices)

By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The dollar slipped broadly on Monday as investors focused on the expected positive impacts of a U.S. bank bailout package on the global economy, weakening some of the safe-haven bid for the U.S. currency.

Mostly ignoring a delay in the announcement of the plan, investors boosted the higher-yielding Australian and New Zealand dollars on rising risk appetite.

"One of the things that has been driving the dollar was fear and lack of risk appetite," said Joseph Trevisani, chief market analyst at FX Solutions in Saddle River, New Jersey. "So if the financial bailout package gives people confidence the financial system problems are behind us, they will be more disposed to take foreign currency risk and that will lead away from the dollar."

Late afternoon in New York, the euro was up 0.6 percent percent at $1.3014 <EUR=>. It earlier rose to a high of $1.3093, its strongest level since Jan. 29.

The dollar was down 0.6 percent against the yen at 91.46 <JPY=>, though well off a session low of 90.90. The euro was little changed against the yen at 119.02 yen <EURJPY=>, recovering from an earlier session low of around 117.07 yen but failing to hold the session peak at 120.01 yen.

The Australian dollar rose 0.7 percent versus the greenback to US$0.6803 <AUD=>, while the New Zealand currency surged 1.4 percent against the U.S. unit to US$0.5391 <NZD=>.

President Barack Obama's administration delayed announcement of the bank rescue plan, which had been scheduled for Monday, until Tuesday as the new administration pressed lawmakers to settle their differences over a giant economic stimulus plan in Congress.

A crucial procedural vote on the $827 billion stimulus package by the Senate was expected later on Monday, with a final vote on the legislation likely on Tuesday. That will set the stage for fierce wrangling as negotiators try to reconcile it with an $819 billion House of Representatives version passed earlier without any Republican support. [ID:nN09513209].

Over the last few months the dollar has gained in the face of bleak U.S. economic news, with investors buying the currency on the view the U.S. government was the most aggressive among industrialized nations in tackling the credit crisis. That should help the U.S. economy emerge from recession quickly and provide underlying support to the dollar, analysts and investors say.


To be sure, some investors were disconcerted by Monday's delay in the announcement of the financial rescue plan. U.S. Treasury officials were expected to brief congressional committee staffers on the plan on Monday evening, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, scheduled to outline it publicly at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday.

They said the delay undermined the dollar because they viewed the bailout package as specific to the United States and any obstacle or evidence of political wrangling would be negative for the U.S. economy and ultimately the dollar.

But analysts said most investors seemed to be looking past the delay and anticipating the details of the bank rescue package and the Senate's vote on the stimulus plan this week.

"Ultimately, that package is going to pass, and I think the markets are anticipating a significant announcement and so the tenor in the FX market is the unwinding of some risk-aversion," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC capital Markets in Toronto.

Sterling rose 0.7 percent to $1.4907 <GBP=> after UK bank Barclays Plc (BARC.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) earlier booked a bigger-than-expected annual profit of over 6 billion pounds and said credit market losses were waning. The pound earlier hit a high of $1.4984, a nearly one-month high, according to Reuters data.

With little on the economic calendar on Monday, market focus stayed firmly on Congress, which divided along party lines on the economic stimulus and bank bailout plans. (Reporting by Nick Olivari and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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