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Wednesday December 9, 2009 - 21:22:12 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar down vs yen, erases losses vs euro

4:15pm EST

* Yen rises, dollar dips vs euro on late risk recovery

* Sterling hits near-two month low against dollar

* UK's Darling announces 50 percent bank bonus tax

* Year-end positioning, deficit worries influence moves (Updates prices, adds Gross comment from Investment Summit)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, Dec 9 (Reuters) - The dollar snapped a three-day advance against the euro on Wednesday as recent worries about governments' fiscal woes eased, sparking a modest rebound in demand for higher-yielding currencies and assets.

Sterling edged lower after Britain announced a 50 percent tax on bank bonuses, while analysts said year-end rebalancing helped boost the yen despite data showing Japan's economy grew by less than expected in the third quarter.

But the overall mood remained cautious a day after Fitch downgraded Greece's credit rating below the single-A bracket for the first time in 10 years. Also, Standard & Poor's on Wednesday revised its outlook on Spain -- another euro zone country with weak finances -- to negative.

"There are some increased concerns about sovereign ratings, though investors are also using it as an excuse to take profits and exit some trades by year-end," said Matthew Strauss, senior strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

Some analysts said the euro recovered from Tuesday's near one-month low against the dollar because markets were already aware of the fiscal woes of Greece and Spain.

Investors tend to buy the dollar and the yen when risk aversion rises and sell them when it falls, as these currencies are often borrowed at low rates to finance risky trades in other assets.

The euro was changing hands at $1.4731 <EUR=>, up 0.2 percent but off a $1.4782 session peak. It fell 0.4 percent to 129.39 yen <EURJPY=> while the dollar lost 0.6 percent to 87.82 yen <JPY>.

ECB Governing Council member Axel Weber said on Tuesday there was no need for external financial handouts for Greece. [ID:nFAB015368]


Strauss said any sign of credit worries from a less obvious part of the world could spark even greater risk aversion of the sort seen last month when Dubai's debt troubles came to light.

That would likely lead to a stronger dollar as investors dump risky assets and take refuge in the U.S. currency.

"The past reputation of the dollar as a safe-haven currency during periods of distress is something markets will not easily relinquish," Bill Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co, told Reuters at its Investment Outlook Summit.

Sterling fell to $1.6168 <GBP=>, its lowest level since mid-October before recovering to trade at $1.6268, down 0.1 percent on the day.

British Finance Minister Alistair Darling said the UK economy will grow by 1 to 1.5 percent in 2010, sticking to the forecast he made in the April budget.

But he admitted the recession had turned out to be deeper than he forecast in April. He said he now expected the economy to shrink 4.75 percent in 2009, instead of the 3.25 to 3.75 percent originally predicted. [ID:nGEE5B81D8] [ID:nDARLING]

He also announced a one-off super tax on bank bonuses and other higher taxes on the rich. [ID:nGEE5B80Z5] The 50 percent bonus tax starts at payments above 25,000 pounds.

"That (threshold) is not a lot of money," said Joseph Trevisani, chief market analyst at FX Solutions in Saddle River, New Jersey, adding that was making investors more cautious about the pound.

(Additional reporting by Nick Olivari; Editing by Diane Craft)

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