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Friday April 3, 2009 - 10:24:15 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro falls vs dollar as U.S. jobs data looms

Fri Apr 3, 2009 6:13am EDT

* Euro falls vs dollar on jitters ahead of U.S. jobs data

* U.S. economy seen losing 650,000 jobs in March

* White House spokesman says warns of 'severe' job cuts

* Yen turns lower vs euro, stg gains after EZ, UK PMIs

(Updates prices, adds quotes)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - The euro fell against the dollar on Friday in cautious trade as investors nervously awaited key U.S. employment data which are expected to show the U.S. economy suffered deep job losses in March.

The non-farm payrolls figure, due at 1230 GMT, is forecast to show a fall of around 650,000 jobs in March to take the unemployment rate to a 26 year high of 8.5 percent.

Speaking on Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs warned the jobs report is likely to show "additional severe job cuts". [ID:nWLA1446].

Nevertheless, the euro pared earlier losses against the dollar and gained against the yen, while sterling also rose after better-than-expected euro zone and UK services sector data, which helped European equities .FTEU3 to trim losses.

"Risk is back on the agenda and the bias is still very strongly towards a softer dollar, but people are wary ahead of the non-farm payrolls numbers," Calyon currency strategist Stuart Bennett said.

A surge in investors' risk appetite after Group of 20 leaders agreed a $1.1 trillion deal to counter the global crisis [ID:nL270941] had sparked sharp gains in equities on Thursday, while the euro and other currencies seen as higher risk jumped.

At 0958 GMT, the euro fell 0.1 percent against the dollar to $1.3444 <EUR=>, while it rose 0.2 percent against the yen to 134.30 yen <EURJPY=R> after trading in negative territory in early European trade.

The dollar also gained 0.3 percent against the yen to 99.89 yen <JPY=> after rising as high as 100.18 yen in early trade on EBS trading platform.

The dollar's trade-weighted index was up 0.1 percent on the day at 84.429 .DXY.

Friday's services sector purchasing managers' survey for the euro zone showed an unexpected upward revision to 40.9 from the 40.1 flash estimate, revealing that the sector contraction is starting to ease. [ID:nLAG003369].

Investors were particularly encouraged by the equivalent survey for the UK services sector, which showed the index jumping to a six-month high of 45.5 from 43.2, well above forecasts for just 43.5. [ID:nLAG003370].

Sterling gained 0.2 percent against the dollar to $1.4761 <GBP=>, having earlier hit a seven-week high of $1.4828 after the UK data was released.

Calyon's Bennett noted that although investors are cautious ahead of the U.S. jobs data, it may need a particularly weak number for the dollar to push much higher.

"It would take a big downside surprise in non-farm payrolls for that bubbled optimism after the G20 to be pricked," he said.

Investors meanwhile continued to digest the European Central Bank's decision on Thursday to cut interest rates by 25 basis points to 1.25 percent, less than the 50 basis point cut that had been widely expected.

The ECB left the door open for more rate cuts and President Jean-Claude Trichet said it would reveal at the next meeting any unconventional monetary easing measures it might take. [ID:nL2118897]

"After people scrutinised Trichet's comments, expectations are growing that the ECB will lower rates again and that they will announce unconventional measures, which is a long-term negative for the euro," Nordea currency strategist Nils Christensen said.

Later in the afternoon, investors will be watching for U.S. non-manufacturing ISM data at 1400 GMT.

(Reporting by Jessica Mortimer)

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