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Friday October 2, 2009 - 22:08:38 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar drops as jobs data bolsters low rates view

FOREX-Dollar drops as jobs data bolsters low rates view

Fri Oct 2, 2009 4:57pm EDT

* U.S. Sept job losses raise doubts about recovery

* U.S. unemployment rate rises to 9.8 percent

* Euro on track for worst week since June (Updates prices, adds comment, details)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, Oct 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar fell against most major currencies on Friday after a weaker-than-expected jobs report reinforced expectations U.S. interest rates will stay near zero for some time.

U.S. employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, far more than expected, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent. The data raised fears the weak labor market could impede the economy's recovery from its worst recession in 70 years.

The prospect of prolonged low U.S. interest rates has weighed heavily on the dollar in recent weeks. Speculation has grown the greenback is replacing the yen as the primary funding currency in carry trades, in which investors borrow in low-yielders to reinvest in assets with greater returns.

"The jobs data is bad and officials still perceive the economy as weak. Obviously it's going to reinforce the low rates for longer," said Brian Kim, currency strategist at UBS in Stamford, Connecticut.

In late New York trading, the euro EUR= traded at $1.4575, up 0.3 percent, after falling to session lows immediately after the release of the jobs data.

Investors initially bought the dollar after the jobs report in a flight-to-safety bid as U.S. stocks prices fell on the news. The buying faded though as stocks rebounded in afternoon trade.

"The problem for the U.S. economy has shifted from loss of jobs to the lack of jobs growth, which is likely to put further pressure on the White House and Congress to devise further jobs stimulus efforts," said Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at BNY Mellon in New York.

Woolfolk added that the U.S. dollar downtrend remains intact "and will be until the Fed signals it will begin lifting interest rates."

Despite Friday's gains, the single euro zone currency was on track for its worst week against the dollar since early June.

RELATIVE STRENGTH

Some analysts said the jobs report also raised worries that the United States may be lagging other major economies in the recovery process despite the government's massive stimulus efforts boost the economy.

"It could be a question of relative economic strength," Jacob Oubina, currency strategist at Forex.com in Bedminster, New Jersey. "(For) European countries, their recovery is a little bit more resilient at this point because they haven't relied on such vast stimulus measures like we have."

Against the yen, the dollar was up 0.2 percent at 89.70 yen JPY=, after trading lower for most of the session.

The ICE Futures dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six other currencies, dropped 0.2 percent to 77.039. The index dropped more than 4 percent in the third quarter, but it edged higher this week.

Among high-yielding, commodity currencies, the Australian dollar fell 0.8 percent to US$0.8653 AUD=, hit by weakness in global shares and lower crude-oil prices.

Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist at RBS, said traders worried about the U.S. or world economy should avoid buying the dollar. He recommended they instead buy short commodity-linked currencies like the Australian dollar against the euro or yen.

Investors will also keep an eye on Saturday's Group of Seven meeting and any talk of rebalancing the world economy. Such a process would require a weaker dollar and could also add pressure to the greenback. A source told Reuters Friday that G7 policymakers are not expected to change their usual language on currencies in the communique. [ID:nFCC000031] (Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Steven C. Johnson; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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