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Wednesday April 8, 2009 - 19:54:14 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar slides vs yen as risk appetite stays low


Wed Apr 8, 2009 3:05pm EDT

* Dollar falls vs yen amid risk aversion

* U.S. corporate earnings worries sap risk appetite

* Fed minutes give few details on asset purchases (Adds comments, details; changes byline)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - The dollar fell against the yen on Wednesday as concerns about U.S. corporate earnings and a volatile Wall Street kept risk appetite low and boosted the safe-haven appeal of the Japanese currency.

U.S. stocks seesawed as investors weighed news of government aid for some life insurers against the prospect of more poor corporate earnings. Alcoa (AA.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Tuesday kicked off the earnings season with a second consecutive quarterly loss.

The greenback lost more ground against the yen after minutes of the Federal Reserve's last rate-setting meeting showed policy-makers agreed to the need for asset purchases to halt the economic slide. For details, see [ID:nN08534242]

Still, analysts said with liquidity thinning before the Easter holiday weekend, currencies are largely being driven by risk sentiment and equity markets.

"It seems the (foreign exchange) market overall is lacking direction and just reacting to short-term moves in equities," said Vassili Serebriakov, currency strategist at Wells Fargo in New York.

Currencies have closely tracked equity prices for direction in recent months, with falling stocks boosting demand for the dollar and yen, which are often seen as safer places to park money in times of heightened risk aversion.

The Japanese currency continued its rebound after hitting a six-month low of 101.45 yen against the dollar earlier in the week. In afternoon trading in New York the dollar was last down 0.8 percent against at 99.65 yen <JPY=>. The euro also fell against the Japanese currency to trade 0.9 percent lower at 132.00 yen <EURJPY=>.

Fed policy-makers agreed at their March 17-18 meeting that "substantial additional purchases" of a range of longer-term assets was appropriate to deal with a steep drop in economic activity, minutes of the meeting showed.

The minutes failed to provide further details on such purchases but they also showed participants expressed concern about downside risks to the economy.

"There was surprisingly little mention about quantitative easing. If anything, I think the dollar could firm on the downgrades to both growth and inflation and the resulting rise in risk aversion in the market," said Omer Esiner, a market analyst at Ruesch International in Washington, D.C.

"I would expect the dollar to weaken against the Japanese yen as a result," he added. The minutes' focus on weak growth and inflation "signals an extended period of economic malaise."


The euro <EUR=> traded little changed at $1.3276, recouping earlier losses as Wall Street stocks recovered. The single European currency climbed to near $1.36 earlier this week after the Group of 20 summit of world leaders in London gave a boost to risk appetite.

Earlier, the euro came under pressure after Ireland announced its second emergency budget in six months on Tuesday, which traders said highlighted strains in the euro zone. [ID:nL7574837]

"Ireland remains the most pressing problem for the (euro zone) region as the country's economy has taken a swan dive," Boris Schlossberg, director of currency research at GFT Forex in New York, wrote in a research note.

"Euro bears argue that ultimately the euro zone will have no choice but to rescue the Celtic Tiger or risk the threat of dissolution," he said.

Markets now are also awaiting a policy decision by the Bank of England on Thursday, at which the central bank is expected to leave UK interest rates on hold at 0.5 percent. [BOE/INT]

The pound <GBP=> was last 0.3 percent lower at 1.4690 to the dollar. (Additional reporting by Wanfeng Zhou; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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