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Wednesday March 4, 2009 - 21:16:49 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar climbs vs yen, buoyed by China optimism

Wed Mar 4, 2009 4:12pm EST

* Dollar hits 4-month high vs yen

* U.S. stocks up, euro rallies from 3-month low vs dollar

* Plans for more Chinese spending boost risk appetite

* U.S. private employers shed 697,00 jobs in February (Updates prices, adds quotes)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar scaled four-month peaks against the yen on Wednesday, as news about China's latest stimulus package and data suggesting its economy is beginning to recover rekindled investors' risk appetite.

The news fueled a rally on Wall Street, lifting it from 12-year lows hit and prompted selling in the greenback versus the euro and other higher-yielding currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars.

"The biggest news today came out of China and that seems to have a bigger impact on risk appetite than market activity," said Robert Blake, senior currency strategist, at State Street Global Markets in Boston.

"The news of the stimulus package is supporting riskier currencies and generating an unwind in the safe-havens that is now more or less limited to the dollar," he added.

China on Wednesday said it would increase infrastructure and manufacturing spending, raising hopes of stimulus for the global economy. In addition, an important measure of Chinese manufacturing improved in February for a third straight month. For news on China, click on [ID:nSP488798].

The report on China overshadowed data showing another slide in U.S. private sector employment for February. For more see [ID:nN04538530].

In late New York trading, the dollar rose to 99.06 yen <JPY=>, up 0.8 percent on the day. Earlier, it climbed to 99.49 yen, the highest level since Nov. 5, according to electronic trading platform EBS.

The yen was also weighed down by concerns about Japan's economy, which is mired in recession. That along with zero interest yields have spurred an outflow of funds from Japanese investors themselves.

Bank of Japan board member Miyako Suda echoed those worries on Wednesday, saying it was difficult to judge whether the Japanese economy had hit bottom and voiced concerns over tumbling share prices.


The euro was trading at $1.2644 <EUR=>, up 0.6 percent on the day after earlier hitting a three-month trough below $1.25. Sterling rose 0.8 percent to $1.4171 <GBP=> .

The global backdrop, though, hasn't changed, with financial markets still in turmoil, credit markets remaining tight and economies around the world still far from recovery.

"We believe the underlying risk aversion theme is alive and well," said Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst, at Interactive Brokers in Greenwich, Connecticut.

"With a push below $1.25 against the euro and the rise to within a hair's breadth of C$1.30 against the Canadian dollar, it's hard to blame traders from taking profits and making short-term bets against the greenback ahead of Friday's employment report."

Anxiety about the U.S. and world economies has supported the dollar in recent months as investors cut exposure to stocks and other currencies and sought safety in the greenback, which benefits from its role as the world's reserve currency.

The Australian dollar, meanwhile, rallied, despite data showing Australia's economy shrank in the fourth quarter for the first time in eight years. The Aussie dollar rose to US$0.6503 <AUD=>, up 1.8 percent.

Its New Zealand counterpart also posted sharp gains to US$0.5055 <NZD=>, up 2.2 percent from late Tuesday.

Analysts said the focus now shifts to Thursday's monetary policy decisions, with the Bank of England and European Central Bank expected to cut borrowing costs by half a percentage point to record lows.

The ECB in particular will be watched for any indication it is considering adopting unconventional measures beyond simple rate cuts to boost money supply and growth.

If that happens, look for renewed euro selling, said Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at Bank of New York-Mellon. "The market would take that to mean the ECB knows something it doesn't, and that's not encouraging." (Additional reporting by Steven C. Johnson; editing by Kenneth Barry)

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