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Monday February 23, 2009 - 12:17:55 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen falls broadly as Citi report boosts stocks

Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:13am EST

* Yen falls broadly as stocks gain on Citi report

* Dollar hits 3-month high vs yen of 94.93 <JPY=>

* Euro cuts gains vs dollar after Trichet, Fitch comments

(Recasts, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The yen fell broadly on Monday, with the dollar hitting its highest in nearly three months, as stocks gained on a report that the U.S. government could end up owning up to 40 percent of embattled lender Citigroup.

This weighed on the yen in particular, while the dollar also fell against currencies other than the yen as the Citi report encouraged market players to buy back into assets perceived to be higher risk.

The euro cut gains against the dollar, however, after European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet said the euro zone financial system is under severe strain [ID:nLN456587] and Fitch voiced concern about Austria's AAA rating [ID:nLN487356].

European shares rose 0.7 percent .FTEU3 after the Wall Street Journal said the U.S. government would take the stake in Citigroup by converting preferred stock into common stock [ID:nHKG310337].

"We've had a move which has been developing for a period of time. We've seen a degree of equity market stability - the (bank) nationalisation story is still there," said Derek Halpenny, European head of global currency research at BTM-UFJ.

He also noted that the Japanese currency remains under pressure as investors consider that a deteriorating Japanese economic and political outlook are hurting its perceived safe-haven status.

"Now there's a risk that we're going to see some unwind of some of that (recent) yen buying," he said.

Investors hoped the Citigroup move would mark a step in the right direction as the U.S. attempts to stave off a deep recession, while it also helped to ease fears that the U.S. government will have to fully nationalise some big banks.

At 1141 GMT, the dollar rose 1.8 percent to 94.80 yen <JPY=>, just below an earlier near three-month high of 94.93 yen.

The euro rose 1.9 percent to 121.72 yen <EURJPY=R> just below a one-month high of 121.89 yen.


The euro cut gains against the dollar, trading flat on the day at $1.2836 <EUR=> after earlier jumping to a 12-day peak of $1.2991.

Analysts said Trichet's comments brought back into focus the economic and banking woes in the euro zone, while the Fitch comments highlighted the problems facing some of the countries on the region's periphery.

"I was surprised how strong the euro was right at the start of the European session on the Citigroup news. This is potentially just based on reports so far," Chris Turner, head of forex strategy at ING said.

Traders said market players were wary of more bad news emerging about the euro zone economy, with the closely-watched Ifo index on the German economic climate due on Tuesday.

Analysts also noted disappointment that the weekend's meeting of G20 leaders failed to yield any concrete agreement on ways to deal with the recession [ID:nLM126747].

"There was disappointment that the main focus of the G20 meeting was on financial market regulation, which is not the most important problem at a time of global recession," Commerzbank head of FX research Ulrich Leuchtmann said.

(Reporting by Jessica Mortimer; additional reporting by Veronica Brown and Farah Master)

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