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Friday December 4, 2009 - 11:14:15 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar steady ahead of key U.S. jobs data

5:40am EST

* Dollar steady in cautious trade before U.S. jobs data

* U.S. economy seen losing 130,000 jobs in November

* China says dollar still at heart of its FX reserves

(Updates prices, adds quotes)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The dollar was steady on Friday in cautious trade as investors awaited the U.S. government's monthly employment report for clues to the pace of recovery in the world's largest economy.

Economists polled by Reuters forecast the U.S. economy lost 130,000 jobs in November, compared with 190,000 in October, while the November unemployment rate was forecast to be unchanged at 10.2 percent. [ECI/US]

Traders were wary, however, after White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Thursday that Wednesday's ADP private sector payroll report had signalled the November unemployment level may tick up. [ID:nN0397010]

"Major currencies are trading in very tight ranges ahead of the non-farm payrolls release," said Adarsh Sinha, currency strategist at Barclays Capital.

He said he expected positive U.S. data to continue to weigh on the dollar as it feeds through into increased investor risk appetite. However, he said there were tentative signs this may begin to change in the coming weeks.

"As we approach year-end, people will start to anticipate the end of Fed tightening and interpret good U.S. data as an indication of a possible early Fed exit".

Expectations U.S. interest rates will stay ultra-low for some time have encouraged investors to use the dollar as a funding currency to invest in riskier and higher-yielding currencies.

By 1021 GMT, the dollar was up 0.1 percent against a basket of currencies at 74.686 <.DXY>, while the euro was steady at $1.5066 <EUR=>.

Traders and analysts said there was little reaction on currency markets to China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange saying it will diversify its investments. It tempered the remarks by stressing that the dollar will continue to anchor its reserves. [ID:nBJB003593]

"Markets are in a wait and see mode, waiting for the non-farm payrolls release to get confirmation of how bad things look," said Sverre Holbek, analyst at Danske Bank in Copenhagen.

The euro neared on Thursday a 16-month high against the dollar around $1.5140 after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said the next 12-month refinancing operation for banks would be the last.

But it lost steam as Trichet said liquidity moves should not be seen as a signal on interest rates. The ECB left rates at a record low 1.0 percent at Thursday's meeting. [ID:nGEE5B125T]

"Despite the more hawkish stance and an upward revision to ECB staff GDP and CPI forecasts, the announcement provided little direct support for the currency perhaps as euro bulls worried over what a "premature" exit from the current policy stance may imply for activity in 2010," Calyon analysts said.

The dollar was steady at 88.16 yen <JPY=>, having recovered from a 14-year low of 84.82 yen hit last week on trading platform EBS.

Traders in Tokyo said Japanese exporters' dollar offers were lined up above 88.50 yen, keeping traders hesitant about chasing the dollar higher.

Market players say the dollar is on a long downward trend against the yen, though it may have hit a near-term bottom.

The Bank of Japan said on Tuesday it would launch a new money market operation to supply around 10 trillion yen ($113 billion) in three-month funds but speculation has persisted that it could pump even more liquidity into the market.

"The yen has weakened against major currencies mainly on speculation the BOJ could flood the market with funds again, allowing people to embark on yen carry trades again," said a senior forex trader at a Japanese trust bank in Tokyo.

"But if something happens to shake investor confidence, that sort of speculation could easily fade away."

(Additional reporting by Rika Otsuka in Tokyo) (([email protected]; Tel: +44207 542 7817, Reuters Messaging: [email protected])

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