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Thursday February 25, 2010 - 21:46:30 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar, euro fall vs yen on Greece, US jobs data

4:04pm EST

* U.S. jobless claims rise unexpectedly in latest week

* Yen hits 3-week high vs dollar, 1-year high vs euro

* Euro rebounds vs dollar, but Greek woes still weigh

(Adds comments, details and updates prices)

By Wanfeng Zhou and Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, Feb 25 (Reuters) - The dollar and euro fell against the yen on Thursday as worries about Greece's debt crisis and an unexpected rise in U.S. new jobless claims boosted safe-haven flows into the Japanese currency.

The euro neared a nine-month low against the dollar and hit a one-year low versus the yen as worries about a sovereign debt default in the euro zone grew after ratings agency Standard and Poor's said late on Wednesday it may cut Greece's rating one or two notches within a month. [ID:nLDE61N2KL]

Investors' appetite for risk fell further after first-time filings for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose in the latest week, fueling concern about the labor market. See [ID:nN24129689]

"The yen has strengthened through Asian and European trading. Sovereign risk fears and the threats of a downgrade of Greece has definitely had an impact," said Sacha Tihanyi, currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

"The initial jobless claims data has really helped to push more of a U.S.-centric feeling of risk aversion," he said.

In late afternoon trading, the dollar dropped 1.2 percent to 89.12 yen, after earlier touching 88.81 yen <JPY=>, its weakest in about three weeks, according to Reuters data.

Traders said the yen may be favored going into the Japanese fiscal year-end. Japanese corporations traditionally repatriate overseas revenue back into their domestic currency ahead of the financial year close on March 31.

The euro fell earlier to as low as $1.3452 <EUR=>, near a nine-month low of $1.3442 hit on Friday, according to Reuters data. But it reversed losses and rose to $1.3571 as U.S. stocks cut some of its declines. It was last 0.15 percent up at $1.3553.

But traders cautioned against reading too much on the move and said despite the bounce, sentiment on the single currency remains negative.

"We saw the euro rising a bit versus the dollar as Wall Street came back from its lows," said Joe Manimbo, a currency trader at Travelex Global Business Payments in Washington.

"But no one is going to go out there aggressively buying euros while Greek debt problems persist," he added.

Concerns over Greece and other peripheral euro zone countries' ability to pay their debts have driven the euro down more than 10 percent versus the dollar from its December highs.

Moody's Investors Service told Reuters on Thursday that any changes in its ratings on Greece would depend on whether Athens delivered on its fiscal reform plans. See [ID:nTOE61O07J]

Fitch Ratings said it expects to keep Greece's BBB-plus rating unchanged for the next few months, barring surprises, and is maintaining its negative outlook. See [ID:nLDE61O1EB]


The spread between Greek and benchmark German 10-year government bonds widened, and the cost rose for insuring Greek debt against default. The cost of insuring Spain and Portugal's debt also rose. [ID:nLDE61O127]

Against the yen, the euro traded as low as 119.66 yen <EURJPY=>, the lowest since February 2009, according to Reuters data. It was last at 120.25 yen, down 1.1 percent.

Investors' focus now may turn to U.S. economic reports on fourth-quarter gross domestic product, consumer sentiment for February and existing home sales for January, all scheduled for Friday.

"Now, it's all about the GDP report," said Manimbo at Travelex. "A good report would be supportive to the dollar." (Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

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