* Dollar, yen fall, higher-yielders advance
* Many financial centers closed for Easter holiday
* Focus on stock reaction to U.S. bank earnings, GM (Recasts, adds details, updates prices)
By Nick Olivari
NEW YORK, April 13 (Reuters) - The dollar and yen both 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 in recent sessions, buoyed by a five-week rally in Wall Street 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.
"The major theme today is China and the positive outlook for a recovery with the Australian and New Zealand dollars benefiting from the theme," said Andrew Busch, global FX strategist at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago in a note to clients. "The greenback and Japanese yen are losing value against most major currencies with market appetite for risk increasing with the recent string of positive equity moves."
In late afternoon trade in New York, the euro rose 1.4 percent to $1.3369 <EUR=> and traded up 1.3 percent at 133.83 yen <EURJPY=>.
The dollar was down 0.4 percent versus the yen at 99.87 yen <JPY=>. Last week, the U.S. currency touched 101.45 yen, its highest 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 details see [ID:nSHA22356]
The Aussie dollar was up 1.5 percent at US$0.7302 <AUD=>, the first rise above 73 U.S. cents since October and the New Zealand dollar rose 1.4 percent to US$0.5912 <NZD=>. The aussie also rose to a six-month high against the yen of 73.17 yen before falling back to 73.01, still up 1.3 percent on the day <AUDJPY=R>.
"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."
China's industrial output picked up to 8.3 percent in March, from a record low of 3.8 percent in the first two months of the year. [ID:nSP469226]
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. [ID:nN13377256]
Several key U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N: Quote, Profile,Research, Stock Buzz) and Citigroup (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) are scheduled to report first-quarter results this week.
"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."
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to deliver what the White House called a "major" speech on the economy on Tuesday.
Obama said on Monday that thousands of major infrastructure projects being undertaken as part of his economic stimulus plan were ahead of schedule and under budget. [ID:nN13376942]
The dollar fell 2 percent against the Swiss franc in late trading but analysts said it was more a factor of light trading than a fundamental reason <CHF=>. (Additional reporting by Wanfeng Zhou; Editing by James Dalgleish)