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Thursday February 19, 2009 - 13:45:13 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro gains broadly as stocks, E.Europe FX rise

Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:15am EST

* Euro gains as risk aversion cools; up 1 pct vs dlr <EUR=>

* East Europe rally, Steinbrueck comments also support euro

* Yen pressured due to worry about Japan's economy

(adds quotes, updates prices, changes byline)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - The euro gained broadly on Thursday, a day after hitting a three-month trough against the dollar, as stocks gained and recently battered eastern European currencies rallied.

World stocks .MIWD00000PUS rallied on some better-than-feared corporate results, helping cool extreme risk aversion and denting the safe-haven bid to the dollar.

The euro's rise was also underpinned by gains in eastern European currencies as policymakers in the region scrambling to protect them [nLJ466566].

Major concerns about the outlook for the global economy and about severe problems in eastern Europe hitting western European banks have far from gone away, however, and analysts see the moves more as profit-taking than a change in sentiment.

"To some extent the extreme gloom of the last couple of weeks is not getting any more fuel," Stockholm-based SEB currency strategist Johan Javeus said.

"The euro has weakened in the last few days and is now coming back," he said, adding: "Eastern Europe has seen a huge sell-off and there has to come a point where we see a rebound, if only just to take profit.

Further support for the euro came as German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck repeated comments that euro zone countries may be forced to help a fellow member state if it encountered serious financial problems, analysts noted.

At 1244 GMT, the euro climbed 1.2 percent to $1.2691 <EUR=>, recovering from a three-month low of $1.2511 touched the previous day.

Meanwhile, the yen remained under pressure due to worries about the Japanese economy -- which suffered its deepest contraction in more than three decades in the latest quarter -- and political uncertainty as voter support for Prime Minister Taro Aso sinks. [ID:nECONJP] [ID:nPOLJP].

Overnight, the Bank of Japan left interest rates at 0.1 percent and extended the deadline for buying commercial paper to help corporate funding.

The single currency rose around 1 percent against the Japanese currency to hit a 9-day high of 118.91 yen <EURJPY=R>.

The dollar dipped 0.1 percent to 93.66 yen <JPY=>, having hit a six week high on Wednesday at 93.96 on trading platform EBS.

E. EUROPEAN CURRENCIES RISE

Concerns over the exposure of euro zone banks to the recession in eastern Europe were heightened after a report from credit ratings agency Moody's earlier this week, bringing the euro under heavy pressure.

A bounce in central and eastern European currencies on Thursday, however, which clawed back some of this week's steep losses was cited as a positive for the euro on Thursday.

Comments from Steinbrueck, repeating those earlier this week [ID:nLH545209], that euro zone countries may have to come to the aid of troubled members also helped the common currency.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs said it appears that euro zone policymakers "do have how to deal with a sovereign bailout within the euro zone".

This being the case it would "substantially reduce the probability of an EMU breakup," they said in a note to clients.

Analysts believe, however, that the current cooling in risk aversion and consequent euro strength will only be temporary.

"The outlook for the euro remains extremely challenging, perhaps people are just taking profit on some of the moves we've seen in east Europe but nothing's really changed and the euro zone remains vulnerable because of its massive lending to that region," said RBS strategist Paul Robson.

(Reporting by Jessica Mortimer; Additional reporting by Kirsten Donovan; Editing by Victoria Main)

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