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Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 20:09:44 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar slumps to 15-month low on data, rate view

Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:51pm EST

* U.S. data shows economic recovery gains traction

* Federal Reserve minutes continue to weigh on dollar

* Euro/dollar breaches $1.51 to 15-month high (Updates prices, adds details, changes byline)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, Nov 25 (Reuters) - The dollar dropped to a 15-month low against a basket of currencies on Wednesday as generally upbeat U.S. economic data and gains in world stocks eroded the greenback's safe-haven appeal.

The euro broke above $1.51 to hit a 15-month high, while the yen rallied to a 10-month peak against the dollar. Thin liquidity a day ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday may have exacerbated currency moves.

U.S. data pointed to stabilization in the labor, consumer and housing sectors of the economy, boosting risk appetite and driving higher-yielding currencies such as the Australian dollar higher. For details, see [ID:nN25346193].

Also weighing on the dollar were minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting released on Tuesday, which described the greenback's recent decline as "orderly" and affirmed expectations U.S. interest rates will remain low well into 2010.

"Investors scrutinized the Fed's assessment and concluded that a 'disorderly' decline in the dollar might have further to run," said Andrew Wilkinson, senior analyst at Interactive Brokers Group in Greenwich, Connecticut.

"The price action today leaves the door wide open for a Thanksgiving Day raid on the dollar for the remainder of the week with many American investors closing their books today until Monday," he added.

The ICE Futures dollar index .DXY ,which measures the greenback's performance against a basket of six currencies, fell to 74.273, a 15-month low. It last traded at 74.308, down 1 percent on the day.

The euro EUR= rose 1.1 percent to $1.5123 after hitting a 15-month high at $1.5140, according to Reuters data.

The dollar fell 1.4 percent to 87.30 yen JPY= after falling as low as 87.22 yen, its lowest since January.

Traders said dollar losses accelerated after Russia's central bank said it would use part of its reserves to purchase Canadian dollars, underlining moves by central banks to diversify out of the U.S. currency.

U.S. consumer spending and home sales rose more than expected in October, while new claims for jobless benefits fell sharply last week, suggesting the economic recovery was gaining traction.

Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT Forex in New York, said the decline in jobless claims bodes well for the labor market.

"Jobs are the most important thing, so they're latching on to the fact that jobless claims were below 500,000, which means we could see a better non-farm payrolls report going forward," she said.

A surprise decline in orders for long-lasting U.S.-made goods, however, offered a reminder that the recovery would be gradual. [ID:nN25346193].

The Australian dollar AUD= rallied 1.3 percent to US$0.9309 after bullish comments from Australia's central bank raised speculation of a rate hike next month. [ID:nSYD514867]

The Swiss franc CHF= broke parity against the U.S. dollar, which was last down 1.2 percent at 0.9965 franc. (Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Steven C. Johnson; Editing by Leslie Adler) (([email protected]; +1 646 223 6304; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]))

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