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Thursday September 17, 2009 - 20:58:21 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-US dollar falls to near 12-month low against euro

Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:43pm EDT

* U.S. dollar under pressure as risk appetite improves

* U.S. economic data mostly positive

* U.S. dollar falls to near 12-month low against euro (Adds comment, updates prices)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, Sept 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar fell to its lowest level in nearly a year against the euro on Thursday as higher stock prices this week and mostly positive economic data dampened safe-haven demand for the U.S. currency.

Optimism about a global recovery grew after a report showed factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region rose in September to its highest since June 2007, while separate data suggested improvement in the housing and job sectors too.

The increasing appetite of investors for risky assets pushed the low-yielding dollar to fresh near-one-year lows versus the euro and a basket of currencies. Trading was volatile as U.S. stocks seesawed between gains and losses.

"Risk appetite is still there. People are still looking for return and looking for higher yield," said John Kicklighter, currency strategist at DailyFX.com in New York.

"We've seen a stabilization trend in these indicators for manufacturing, employment and housing. That's really what you want to see to get a genuine economic recovery," he added.

In late New York trading, the euro rose as high as $1.4766, its highest since late September 2008, according to Reuters data. It was last up 0.2 percent at $1.4738 EUR=.

Investors have sold the dollar heavily this month as recovery hopes diminished safe-haven demand. The prospect of low U.S. yields and concerns about the U.S. fiscal deficit fueled the dollar selling.

The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index, which tracks the value of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, hit a near one-year low of 76.010, before recovering to trade little changed at 76.225 .DXY. The index has fallen 2.4 percent in September, its worst monthly performance since May.

Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT Forex in New York, said while she remains bearish on the dollar, "the short dollar trade was getting very crowded" and some correction was likely in the near term.

"The dollar has become very oversold ... but I don't really think the downtrend is over. Traders keep on selling dollars because of the low yield. There's no reason to hold dollars," she said.

BOJ UPGRADE

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's business activity index jumped to 14.1 in September from 4.2 in August. Separately, groundbreaking for U.S. homes and permits for future building scaled a nine-month high in August. The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week. See [ID:nN17362464] [ID:nN17191275].

Investors are not just selling dollars as risk appetite rises but also yen, analysts say, particularly against the higher-yielding commodity currencies.

The euro gained 0.5 percent to 134.31 yen EURJPY=R and the dollar was up 0.3 percent at 91.11 yen JPY=.

"We're moving towards the yen (selling) because the market is already very short dollars," said Vassili Serebriakov, currency strategist, Wells Fargo in New York.

"The market is still optimistic on the recovery so it's starting to buy commodity currencies more against the yen rather than against the dollar," he added.

The yen got an early boost after Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa said a stronger yen would push down prices in the near term but might support the economy in the longer run.

Speaking after the BOJ held interest rates at 0.1 percent while upgrading its economic assessment, he added he would carefully monitor the impact of currency moves. [ID:nTKG006496]

In other trading, the Swiss franc CHF= hit its highest in more than one year at 1.0271. The Swiss National Bank renewed its policy of ultra-low interest rates, bond purchases and interventions to stop the Swiss franc rising. [ID:nZUX000025] (Additional reporting by Nick Olivari; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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