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Tuesday June 29, 2010 - 20:24:19 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Euro tumbles on bank worries; dollar, yen advance

2:40pm EDT

* Euro hits record low vs Swiss franc, 8 1/2-yr low vs yen

* High-yielding currencies tumble as investors pare risk

* Gloom over recovery grew on data on U.S., China, Japan (Adds comments, details, changes byline)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, June 29 (Reuters) - The euro fell on Tuesday on concerns about European banks' funding abilities, while the dollar and yen gained as soft economic data from across the globe cast doubts over the strength of economic recovery.

The euro hit an all-time low versus the Swiss franc and an 8 1/2-year trough against the yen. Interbank euro funding costs rose to an eight-month high on fears the expiry of nearly half a trillion euros of emergency loans this week may cause strains for some banks. For details, see [ID:nN29137639]

Uncertainty about the global recovery grew after data on Tuesday showed a steep fall in U.S. consumer confidence, a sharp downward revision to China's leading indicators index and weakness in Japanese exports and unemployment. [ID:nN29138077]

"The market is extremely sensitive to the fundamental data that we're seeing right now," said Gareth Sylvester, senior currency strategist at HiFX in San Francisco. "Any data that would suggest a slowdown could be more prolonged, or the lack of evidence to support the recovery sequence, is going to create some nervousness."

Higher-yielding currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars sold off as concerns about the economy prompted investors to pare back trades in riskier assets.

"Equity markets are down heavily today and that is being translated into some U.S. dollar strength. All the risky currencies like the Canadian dollar, the Aussie and Kiwi have seen notably sell-offs versus the U.S. dollar," Sylvester said.

In afternoon trading in New York, the euro fell 0.6 percent to $1.2200, after hitting a two-week low of $1.2152 EUR=, according to Reuters data.

Technical analysts noted $1.2150 as a key level, saying a break would open the way for a retest of the psychologically important $1.2000 level and the pair's four-year low around $1.1875 set on June 7.

The euro EURJPY=R was down nearly 1.4 percent at 108.12 yen after hitting a session low of 107.33 yen, its weakest since late 2001. It fell to 1.3173 francs EURCHF= according to Reuters data, the lowest since the euro's 1999 launch.

The franc has gained broadly since the Swiss National Bank this month backed off its pledge to intervene in the currency market to stem its strength. Comments from policymaker Jean-Pierre Danthine on Monday bolstered this view.


Euro zone banks must repay 442 billion euros ($539 billion) on Thursday borrowed a year ago at low rates as part of the European Central Bank's efforts to boost liquidity. Investors fear this could leave banks facing a liquidity shortfall.

European Central Bank officials scrambled to reassure nervous markets. To offset the burden that banks will face in paying back the money, the ECB has padded the date with extra borrowing opportunities for them, including an offer of unlimited three-month funds on Wednesday. See [ID:nLDE65S20V]

Europe's main barometer of investor anxiety, the VDAX-NEW volatility index , rose more than 10 percent, hitting its highest level in three weeks.

The U.S. dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.4 percent to 86.037. Against the safe-haven yen, the dollar dropped 0.9 percent to 88.55 yen JPY=.

Lower U.S. government bond yields, with 10-year Treasury yields US10YT=RR below 3 percent for the first time since April 2009, also weighed on dollar/yen.

Traders also cited significant U.S. dollar short-covering ahead of the monthly payrolls report on Friday that will provide a key reading on the U.S. economy.

"It's not a good time to be long risk," said Douglas Borthwick, head of trading at Faros Trading LLC, a full service FX execution firm in Stamford, Connecticut.

"With month-end risk reduction, coupled with a touchy number on Friday compounded by model accounts adding to risk aversion trades, (today's) moves could be the tip of the iceberg," Borthwick added. (Additional reporting by Vivianne Rodrigues; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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