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Wednesday April 22, 2009 - 20:27:08 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Yen gains on export data, dollar dips vs euro

Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:19pm EDT

* Yen gains as unease lingers but export data offers hope

* Euro gains on dollar as stocks shake off earlier losses

* Sterling tumbles as UK forecasts surge in borrowing (Updates prices, adds details)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, April 22 (Reuters) - The dollar fell against the yen on Wednesday, partly due to signs of a modest recovery in Japanese exports, while the British pound plunged after the government forecast a surge in borrowing this year.

The euro also gained on the dollar, but retreated from a session peak above $1.30 as Wall Street stocks fell in late trade, boosting some safe-haven flows into the greenback.

Nagging worries about the financial system kept investors from taking on too much risk, however, undermining higher-yielding currencies such as the New Zealand dollar and boosting the yen, which typically firms when anxiety rises.

The International Monetary Fund said the world economy was in a deep recession and slashed its global growth forecast, while Morgan Stanley reported a second straight quarterly loss. For more, see [ID:nN21500818]

"Investors are trying to decide which way to jump," said Wells Fargo currency strategist Nick Bennenbroek. "The question is whether to bet on a more sustained recovery in financial markets or position for a renewed risk aversion."

The dollar fell 0.7 percent to 97.97 yen <JPY=>, while the euro fell 0.3 percent to 127.38 yen <EURJPY=>. The euro rose 0.5 percent to $1.2998 <EUR=>, off a session high of $1.3036.

The yen also rose against the Australian <AUDJPY=R> and New Zealand dollars <NZDJPY=R>.

The uncertainty in the market over the health of the world banking system accounted for some yen gains, but investors said data showing Japanese exports rose in March also helped, even though they were at nearly half the level of the year earlier.

"That was good justification for some yen strength. Traders took it as a good reason to buy yen today," said Sebastien Galy, currency strategist at BNP Paribas in New York.

Sterling fell 1.2 percent to $1.4480 <GBP=> after British Finance Minister Alistair Darling said the UK's budget deficit will soar to 175 billion pounds this year, some 12 percent of GDP, and top earners will face a new 50 percent tax rate. [ID:nLM580308]

The euro rose 1.8 percent to 89.75 pence <EURGBP=>.

"A debt-to-GDP ratio of 12 percent doesn't sit comfortably with anybody," said Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers Group in Greenwich, Connecticut.

He called the deficit forecast "a massive predicament" that could sour global investors on the UK market as a whole.

But BNP Paribas' Galy said the sterling sell-off was probably overdone and the currency stood to rebound in the near term, particularly if recent optimism is sustained and stocks push higher.

The market mood in the coming days is likely to be driven by the outcome of the stress tests U.S. authorities are conducting at major banks. Officials are expected to release some details on Friday, though full results are not expected until May 4.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said this week that most U.S. banks have enough capital to keep lending, but a pile of bad debts is feeding doubt about their health and slowing a recovery.

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