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Tuesday August 25, 2009 - 20:30:14 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar mixed as US data sparks oppposite plays

Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:05pm EDT

* Dollar down vs yen and euro, but stronger elsewhere

* Report shows improving U.S. housing sector

* U.S. consumer confidence rises in August (Updates prices)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The dollar slipped against the euro and yen on Tuesday as upbeat U.S. data and Ben Bernanke's nomination for a second term as Federal Reserve chief pushed some investors to buy higher-yielding currencies and assets.

The greenback, however, was well off its session low against the euro and managed to rise in thin trade against other major currencies, including the British pound, as differing views about how to trade strong U.S. economic data caused divergent price action.

Analysts said some saw the strong U.S. economic data as a signal to buy risky assets, while others expected it to lead to a U.S. recovery and higher interest rates, increasing the dollar's appeal.

"This push and pull of two different viewpoints is why you're seeing this ambivalence in the currency market," said Samarjit Shankar, managing director of global FX strategy at BNY Mellon in Boston. "There are those who think the dollar just might be supported on the back of a U.S. recovery."

The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.4308 EUR= after earlier hitting $1.4361 while the dollar slipped 0.4 percent to 94.13 yen JPY=. Sterling fell 0.4 percent to $1.6351 GBP=.

The euro showed little reaction to figures confirming that Germany's economy grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter and exited a recession. For more see [ID:nLO664090].

The relatively high-yield Australian dollar reversed earlier gains and fell 0.3 percent to $0.8355 AUD= while the U.S. dollar rose 0.9 percent against its Canadian counterpart to C$1.0855 CAD=. Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Timothy Lane said Tuesday his country's recession is likely over but warned about excessive currency strength. [ID:nN25216065]

BERNANKE RETURNS

President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised the Fed's Bernanke for guiding the economy through its worst recession since the Great Depression and asked him to lead the U.S. central bank for four more years.

"Obama's decision has been motivated by a realization that ... global financial markets desperately need a sense of stability at a time when the banking system still remains vulnerable to further write-downs and credit contractions," said Boris Schlossberg, director of FX research at GFT in New York.

Data showing U.S. consumer confidence grew in August while prices of single-family homes rose for a second straight month in June also whetted investors' risk appetite. [ID:nN25205751]

"These numbers are definitely reassuring," said Melvin Harris, a strategist at Advanced Currency Markets in New York. "Consumer numbers are important -- they are an indicator of what people are willing to spend and that matters for growth."

He said the dollar's ability to hold firm despite a recent tendency to sell it for higher-yielding currencies on the back of strong economic data reflected "more normalized markets."

But the economic outlook is still fairly murky.

Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist at RBS Securities in Greenwich, Connecticut, said Tuesday's data suggests the economy is on the right track but there's nothing in it to suggest a U.S. consumer recovery "would be anything but tepid." (Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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