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Thursday January 14, 2010 - 11:12:00 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Yen falls, Aussie jumps on jobs data; ECB eyed

5:38am EST

* Better-than-expected employment report boosts Aussie

* Yen falls versus dollar and euro

* Focus turns to ECB policy meeting, U.S. retail sales

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The yen fell broadly and the Australian dollar jumped on Thursday after a strong Australian employment report encouraged investors to pick up higher-yielding currencies.

The Australian currency hit a two-month high versus the U.S. dollar after data showed employment rose for a fourth month running in December and the jobless rate at an eight-month low, adding to the case for higher interest rates. [ID:nSGE60C06P]

Against the yen, the dollar <JPY=> rose 0.5 percent to 91.86 yen while the euro gained 0.5 percent to 133.28 yen.

At 0958 GMT, the euro <EUR=> was steady against the dollar at $1.4510, with traders cautious ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting and a news conference by the bank's president, Jean-Claude Trichet.

No change is expected to euro zone interest rates or the rate outlook, and the central bank's view on Greece's fiscal troubles will be a focus. [ID:nLDE60C2DD]

Concerns about Greece also weighed on the single currency as the country's finance minister announced plans to cut its double-digit budget deficit [ID:nATH005121] and the spread between Greek and German government bonds widened.

"A lot of people are very cautious about the fiscal situation in Greece. This seems to have stopped the uptrend in euro/dollar, although it's not enough to really hurt the euro," said Niels Christensen, currency strategist at Nordea in Copenhagen.

The euro reacted little to above-forecast euro zone industrial production data [ID:nBRQ009666].

The Australian dollar was up 0.6 percent from late U.S. trade to $0.9294 <AUD=D4>, having hit a two-month high of $0.9331, taking it closer to the 2009 high of $0.9407.

"The Australian dollar is outperforming and well bid after the jobs report, plus commodities look well on track in 2010," said SEB analyst in Stockholm Dag Muller.

Traders said the unwinding of positions in commodity currencies triggered by China's move to start tightening monetary policy earlier this week seemed to have run its course.

The data helped boost risk appetite broadly, weighing on the low-yielding yen, alongside the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which said U.S. economic activity was improving modestly and broadening out across the country. [ID:nN13227279]

"Even though we have seen some cracks recently in the correlation between major currencies and risk, we have seen stocks coming back a bit more strongly and this gives the yen room to weaken," Muller said.

The Aussie rose 1.1 percent to 85.38 yen <AUDJPY=R> after topping the psychologically important 85 yen level shortly after the data was released.


Investors were also awaiting U.S. retail sales for signs of how U.S. domestic demand fared over the Christmas period, as well as weekly jobless claims data at 1330 GMT. <ECONUS>

Sentiment towards the U.S. dollar was knocked earlier by dovish comments from New York Federal Reserve Bank president William Dudley, who said he would like to see a stronger recovery before the central bank raises rates. [ID:nSGE60C06P]

The dollar index <.DXY> <=USD> edged up 0.1 percent to 76.952 with strong support seen around the 100-day moving average near 76.50.

Traders were watching whether the euro could climb and hold above resistance around $1.4570, a 38.2 percent Fibonacci retracement of its fall from the December high of $1.5142 to the December low of $1.4218.

The next resistance is a 50-percent Fibonacci retracement at $1.4680, but it may lose upward momentum around that level as investors could be hesitant to chase it higher due to debt troubles in some euro zone countries, particularly Greece. (Editing by Mike Peacock)

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