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Monday March 30, 2009 - 11:32:58 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar, yen up on U.S. auto, Spain bank woes

Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:22am EDT

* US autos woes, Spanish bank rescue slam risk appetite

* Dollar, yen up broadly, technically shaky euro slides

* Dollar index up 0.6 pct .DXY; dollar down 1.9 pct vs yen

* Heavy event risk this week as G20, ECB, payrolls loom

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

By Tamawa Desai

LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - The dollar and yen rallied on Monday as renewed trouble in the U.S. auto sector dented investors' risk appetite, while Spain's first bank bailout since the start of the financial crisis compounded the euro's losses.

With risk appetite rapidly receding, the dollar and yen also posted sharp gains against so-called high yielders such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars.

The euro also remained under pressure ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting and a G20 summit in London, both taking place on Thursday.

"Risk aversion is the main play," said Geoffrey Yu, currency strategist at UBS. "But it should not distract from the key events this week -- the ECB and G20 -- where risks are biased against the euro," he said.

By 1201 GMT, the euro was down 0.9 percent on the day at $1.3177 <EUR=>, having broken through long-term support at the 200-week moving average last Friday around $1.3380.

The single currency was down 2.1 percent against the yen at 127.20 yen. It briefly fell more than 4 yen from a session high to hit a low of 126.44 yen <EURJPY=R>.

The dollar index, a measure of the dollar's value against six major currencies, was up 0.6 percent on the day at 85.68 .DXY.

The Australian dollar was down 1.9 percent at $0.6801 <AUD=> while the New Zealand dollar fell 1.4 percent at $0.5617 <NZD=>.

The dollar was down 1.9 percent against the Japanese currency at 96.05 yen <JPY=>.

The Obama administration rejected restructuring plans for General Motors (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Chrysler, and the Spanish government said the Bank of Spain will bail out regional savings bank Caja Castilla la Mancha, renewing worries about financials.

The White House said it would only fund GM for the next 60 days, while it develops a more convincing restructuring plan, with GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner forced out.

This sent global equities and government bond yields hurtling lower as investors cut risk exposure wherever they could.

European shares were down 2.4 percent in midday trade .FTEU3


Despite the improvement in risk appetite over the last few weeks, "there were still a few banana skins out there," said Daragh Maher, deputy head of global FX strategy at Calyon.

"So you're back to the conventional situation of rising risk aversion, and the dollar and yen being bid," while the Spanish bank bailout and expectations of quantitative easing measures from the ECB later this week are weighing on the euro, he said.

Data on Monday showed euro zone economic sentiment fell to new record lows in March. Economic sentiment fell to 64.6 from 65.3, and also below market forecasts of 65.5.

Separately, Spain posted negative inflation, a first among euro zone countries in the current economic downturn, raising chances of lower-than-expected consumer price growth in the euro zone.

Some analysts say the euro's next technical target on the downside could be $1.31, the 50 percent Fibonacci retracement level of the euro's March rally from $1.2455 to $1.3737.

The ECB holds a rate review on Thursday. As well as expectations that it will cut its main policy rate by half a percentage point to a new record low of 1 percent, the market is keen to see how far it might follow other central banks such as the Fed in taking unconventional steps to shore up the economy.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet attends a European Parliament committee hearing at 1430 GMT on Monday and the market will be listening for clues on its next steps. [ECB/INT] (Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Victoria Main)

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