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Monday April 13, 2009 - 17:14:48 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Dollar, yen drop versus euro; U.S. bank earnings loom

Mon Apr 13, 2009 11:58am EDT

* Dollar, yen lower; higher-yielders advance

* Risk appetite improved by stocks rally, economy hopes

* Focus on how stocks react to U.S. bank earnings, GM (Adds comments, updates prices)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, April 13 (Reuters) - The dollar and yen fell against the euro on Monday as improved appetite for risk eroded the safe-haven appeal of the U.S. and Japanese currencies.

Risk sentiment has improved remarkably in recent sessions, buoyed by a five-week rally in U.S. stocks and growing hopes that the financial sector and global economy may be past the worst.

Higher-yielding currencies including the Australian and New Zealand dollars advanced, with investor optimism further boosted by a report that China was considering more stimulus steps to promote growth.

Light volume exacerbated price moves, with many financial centers closed for the Easter holiday and markets waiting for the U.S. corporate earnings season to get into full swing.

"Investor confidence is regaining despite stocks being down today," said Matt Esteve, a foreign-exchange trader at Tempus Consulting in Washington.

"This week is littered with important corporate earnings, specifically from financial institutions," he added. If the banks "do not meet expectations or don't meet these now inflated expectations, that could be a risk event for the market."

In midday trading, the euro rose 1.4 percent to $1.3367 <EUR=> and was up 1.3 percent at 133.80 yen <EURJPY=>.

The dollar was slightly down versus the yen at 100.09 yen <JPY=>. Last week, the U.S. currency touched 101.45 yen, its highest level in six months, as stock gains worldwide encouraged investors to move away from the perceived safety of the yen.

Commodity currencies rallied, fueled by the prospect of a recovery in the Chinese economy. China is planning a new economic stimulus package targeted at boosting consumption, the China Securities Journal reported, citing an official of the State Information Center. For more, see [ID:nSHA22356]

The Aussie dollar was up 1.4 percent at US$0.7290 <AUD=> and the New Zealand dollar rose 1.0 percent to US$0.5886 <NZD=>.

"There's some small evidence that the Chinese economy is actually doing substantially better," said Boris Schlossberg, director of currency research at GFT Forex in New York. The commodity currencies "are the primary beneficiaries of all this demand from China and that's why they are continuing to outperform."


Investors will keenly watch how U.S. stocks react to the possibility of a bankruptcy filing by General Motors (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and key bank earnings later in the week.

The U.S. Treasury Department is directing General Motors to lay the groundwork for a bankruptcy filing by June 1, The New York Times reported on Sunday. See story [ID:nN13365648].

Several key U.S. banks including Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Citigroup (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) are all scheduled to report first-quarter results this week.

Currency strategists at Scotia Capital warned there will likely be some significant volatility in currency markets this week as a result of the earnings releases and the financial sector is likely to have the greatest impact.

Last week, the dollar rose against the yen, after positive earnings guidance from Wells Fargo (WFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

"The tone here could herald a turning point for both equities and the dollar," Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers, wrote in a research note. "The script currently has economic recovery embedded within a financial sector turnaround, which in turn is hampering the dollar." (Editing by Leslie Adler)

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