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Wednesday January 6, 2010 - 22:11:05 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar falls vs euro after Fed minutes; yen down

4:29pm EST

* Fed minutes show worry about end of MBS buying

* Japan finance minister resignation weighs on yen

* U.S. services sector grows, job losses slow in Dec

* U.S. nonfarm payrolls data on Friday a key focus (Updates prices, adds comment, details)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Reuters) - The dollar fell against the euro on Wednesday after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting suggested the possibility of more stimulus measures for the economy.

The dollar also pared gains versus the yen, although it remained higher on the day. The yen has been pressured by uncertainty surrounding the resignation of Japan's finance minister. See [ID:nN06157786].

Over the past month, the dollar had risen on expectations an improving economy would prompt the Fed to hike interest rates sooner rather than later. Analysts said the minutes are likely to dampen speculation the central bank would tighten any time soon.

In the minutes, Fed officials expressed concern the winding down of the central bank's massive purchases of mortgage securities could hurt the housing market. Some said persistently high unemployment might make it desirable at some point to expand or extend asset purchases. [ID:nWEQ003714]

"The Fed headline discussing the possibility of more stimulus for the U.S. economy was surprising and has caused the dollar to weaken especially against the euro," said Amelia Bourdeau, senior currency strategist at UBS in Stamford, Connecticut. "What that suggests is that the U.S. economy is not out of the woods yet."

The euro rose to a session high of $1.4434, according to Reuters data, and was last up 0.3 percent at $1.4410 <EUR=>.

The dollar rose 0.7 percent to 92.35 yen, off a high of 92.74 yen <JPY=> hit earlier in the day. The euro rose 1 percent to 133.13 yen <EURJPY=R>.

The yen came under pressure after news of Japanese Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii's resignation. His departure could add to challenges for the Japanese government as it wrestles with deflation, a fragile economy and huge public debt.

Most analysts expect little impact on Japan's currency policy, which is controlled by the finance ministry. But some say Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who will succeed Fujii, may be less tolerant of letting the yen rise and putting at risk a fragile export-led recovery. [ID:nT79774]

"I think the market is a little bit more unsure not only on the currency side, but also on the government finances side," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto. "It created uncertainty and the market saw that as enough reason to sell the yen."


The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index, which measures the value of the greenback versus a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.2 percent to 77.459 <.DXY>.

Major currencies will likely stay in ranges ahead of a key U.S. jobs report on Friday, which could help shape the outlook for U.S. interest rates and the direction of the dollar.

Economists on average forecast U.S. job losses of 8,000 for last month, according to a Reuters poll.

Earlier, data from ADP Employment Services showed the U.S. private sector lost 84,000 jobs in December. That was fewer than the 145,000 jobs lost in November, but exceeded the 73,000 economists had expected. [ID:nN06134559]

"Clearly, we're still far from seeing jobs growth in the economy," said Vassili Serebriakov, senior currency strategist at Wells Fargo in New York. "The most important thing is the trend in employment continues to improve."

A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management said its services index rose to 50.1 in December, above November's 48.7 but below economists' median forecast of 50.5. [ID:nN06314739] (Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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