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Thursday April 30, 2009 - 20:32:09 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Optimism, month-end flows boost dollar vs yen

Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:24pm EDT

* Dollar, euro rise against yen

* Chrysler files for bankruptcy protection

* Dollar boosted by month-end flows in thin trading

* U.S. data suggests economy will recover later this year (Recasts, updates prices, adds comment)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - The dollar neared a two-week high against the yen on Thursday and the euro also gained on the Japanese currency as strong corporate earnings in April boosted hopes that the world's economic slump may be easing.

Trading was thin, however, as much of Europe headed out for the May Day holiday and the Golden Week Holiday began in Japan, exaggerating some of the moves. Month-end flows also affected exchange rates as investors balanced their portfolios.

Encouraging U.S. employment and manufacturing data added to a burgeoning sense of optimism that helped the benchmark S&P 500 stock index .SPX post its best month in nine years. That dried up some safe-haven flows into the dollar and weighed on the yen.

"We're seeing more confidence. Investors' attitude is that perhaps the worst is behind us. They're starting to put money back to work in markets," said Chris Gaffney, vice president of world markets at Everbank World Markets in St. Louis.

RBC Capital Markets strategist Matthew Strauss, however, said trading activity was unusually thin, and said investors bought dollars to square up their portfolios as April ended. He said clearer direction would have to wait until next week.

The dollar rose 1.1 percent to 98.60 yen <JPY=> and the euro rose 0.8 percent to 130.45 yen <EURJPY=>. The yen was also hit after the Bank of Japan said it now expects the Japanese economy to shrink 3.1 percent in fiscal year 2009.

The euro shed 0.3 percent to $1.3230 <EUR=> after an overnight rally stalled near $1.34 and prompted investors to take profits.

Analysts said euro gains were also limited by uncertainty about whether the European Central Bank will opt to follow the U.S. Federal Reserve and embrace unorthodox policy measures such as buying securities to boost credit and stimulate growth.

Sterling was up 0.1 percent at $1.4785 <GBP=> while the U.S. dollar fell 0.9 percent against its Canadian counterpart to C$1.1925 <CAD=>.


U.S. automaker Chrysler's filing for bankruptcy protection on Thursday had limited impact on the currency market, though some analysts said it was a marginal positive for risk-taking.

"Restructuring for Chrysler and, for that matter, GM, is requisite to retain many thousands of jobs in the auto sector and avoid a worst-case scenario," said Bank of New York-Mellon currency strategist Michael Woolfolk. "In a severe recession, a collapse of the auto industry is not an option."

On Wednesday, the Fed said the U.S. economy's decline was slowing. Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told Congress on Thursday she saw glimmers of hope in the economy but added it was "hard to know" how soon it would take for a sustainable recovery. For more see [ID:nN30510749].

Some investors said recent data has been hopeful, including a report showing weekly jobless claims decreased in the latest week even as continued claims notched a fresh high.

"The longer we have stability -- no matter what level you have stability at -- if you have stability, that's the precursor to recovery," said Joseph Trevisani, chief market analyst at FX Solutions in Saddle River, New Jersey. (Additional reporting by Nick Olivari; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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