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Monday March 9, 2009 - 11:04:43 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar gains broadly as stocks fall on banking woes

Mon Mar 9, 2009 6:54am EDT

* Dollar rises broadly as equities fall sharply

* European shares lose 1.7 pct, led by banking stocks

* Sterling badly hit by equity falls, hits 6-wk low vs dlr

* Yen falls as Japan posts current account deficit in Jan

(Updates prices, adds quotes)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - The dollar rose broadly on Monday as global recession fears and banking sector concerns pulled shares lower and encouraged investors to move back into the perceived safety of the U.S. currency.

Falls in banking shares pushed the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 down 1.7 percent, while the broader STOXX 600 index fell to its lowest since September 1996.

Concerns about the outlook for the banking sector intensified after Lloyds (LLOY.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said over the weekend that the UK government would get a stake of up to 77 percent in the bank after agreeing to underwrite 260 billion pounds of risky assets.

The dollar benefitted broadly from the falls in share markets, particularly against sterling, which dropped to a six-week low given the focus on troubles with UK banks.

Meanwhile, global recession fears also gripped markets after Japan swung to its first current account deficit in 13 years [ID:nT250938] and investors continued to digest Friday's grim U.S. jobs data which brought the unemployment rate to a 25-year high in February [ID:nN06382576].

"There is not much in the way of good news out there, and there are no signs of the dollar losing its safe haven status," UBS currency analyst Geoffrey Yu said.

"We are seeing a broad correction from the pre-payroll losses in the dollar, with the data showing that the U.S. economy is still in slow bleed mode," he said.

At 1041 GMT, the dollar index rose 0.5 percent to 89.011 .DXY as the euro fell 0.3 percent to $1.2605.

The dollar's biggest gains came against sterling, which fell over 1 percent to hit a near six-week trough of $1.3909 <GBP=>, with analysts noting a particularly strong link between the UK currency and equity market developments.

Other currencies perceived to be higher risk also fell sharply against the U.S. currency, with the Australian dollar <AUD=> down 0.7 percent at $0.6360 and the New Zealand dollar <NZD=> falling 0.8 percent to $0.4984.


The yen fell broadly after yet more grim data on the Japanese economy, this time showing the first current account deficit in 13 years in January as the global recession crushed export demand and income from overseas investment [ID:nT181429].

A deepening downturn in Japan has taken the shine off the Japanese currency's attraction as a safe-haven currency in recent weeks, taking the dollar back within sight of the key 100 yen mark.

"The yen is likely to remain weak, particularly as we head into the fiscal year-end, and since the Japanese authorities have indicated that they want the currency to weaken," BNP Paribas currency strategist Ian Stannard said.

The dollar rose 0.5 percent against the yen to 98.88 yen <JPY=>, while the euro also gained 0.2 percent to 124.68 <EURJPY=R>.

With little in the way of key economic data due for release on Monday, analysts said market players will be wary of the possibility of any more negative news on either the corporate or the economic front which could intensify market risk aversion.

Earlier Monday, the latest Sentix indicator showed sentiment among euro zone investors deteriorated in March to its lowest level since the survey began in early 2003, dropping by more than expected to -42.7 from -36.1 in February [ID:nBAF000831].

(Reporting by Jessica Mortimer; Editing by Victoria Main)

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