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Friday November 6, 2009 - 10:21:35 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar eases a bit ahead of U.S. jobs data

Fri Nov 6, 2009 4:38am EST

* Dollar index down 0.2 pct at 75.580 .DXY

* Markets on hold ahead of U.S. payroll data

* Dollar/yen upside capped by large options at 91 yen

* Sterling up 1 pct on week after BoE

By Tamawa Desai

LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - The dollar eased slightly as firm equity markets supported risk-taking sentiment, but activity was muted ahead of a U.S. jobs report expected to provide more insight into the state of the economy.

U.S. non-farm payrolls data is the last big event risk of the week after a round of central bank decisions which largely weighed on the dollar.

The U.S. jobs report, due out at 1330 GMT, is expected to show a slower pace of job losses, but another rise in the unemployment rate, traders said.

"If the payrolls number falls within expectations, risk-taking appetite is likely to re-emerge," said Lee Hardman, currency strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

"The dovish Fed statement this week has raised the bar for a positive jobs number to lead to a higher dollar," he added. "Only an extremely strong number (in the payrolls) or an extremely weak number would help the dollar."

A Reuters poll showed median 175,000 U.S. jobs were shed in October, slower than the 263,000 lost in September, with the jobless rate rising to 9.9 percent. ECONUS

"Of key symbolic significance for investors today will be the rate of unemployment, which may reach the 10 percent psychological threshold, if not this month then probably in November," said Lena Komileva, head of G7 market economics at Tullett Prebon.

By 0855 GMT, the dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.2 percent at 75.580 .DXY.

The euro was flat on the day at $1.4893 EUR=.

The dollar fell after the Fed kept interest rates at record lows on Wednesday and indicated they would stay there for some time.

It lost further ground on Thursday after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet sounded an optimistic note about a 2010 recovery and hinted at a slow-motion exit strategy for some emergency stimulus measures. The ECB kept rates steady as expected.

Sterling gained after Bank of England expanded its asset-purchase programme by 25 billion pounds on Thursday, halving the pace at which it buys bonds and suggesting the scheme may be coming to an end.

The pound was up 0.1 percent on the day at $1.6617 and on track for a 1.2 percent gain this week.

The dollar was slightly weaker against the yen at 90.55 yen JPY=, with the upside capped by a large amount of options with a strike price of 91.00 yen set to expire later in the day.

Some traders said the yen may come under pressure after the U.S. jobs data on growing concerns about Japan sovereign risk, reflected in a blowout in the price of insuring debt.

Japan's 5-yr CDS widened to 67.2 in Europe Thursday afternoon from 62.2 at the New York close, data from monitor CMA DavaVision shows.

Ten-year JGB yields also hit 3-month highs on Friday as concerns mounted over increased debt issuance and the new Japanese government's ability to handle its spiralling debt.

Traders will keep an eye on Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers who start a meeting in Scotland on Friday, although discussions on currencies are not on the formal agenda.

UK finance minister and G20 chair Alistair Darling told Reuters in an interview G20 policymakers are agreed that it is too early to pull the plug on economic life-support packages as the global recovery is still fragile. [ID:nLAG005901]

On currencies, he said: "There is a lot of volatility in exchange rates and other markets we have seen for perfectly obvious reasons. I think this weekend people are looking at medium and long-term issues."

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