FOREX-Dollar tumbles vs euro after U.S. jobs data; yen falls

Fri Feb 1, 2013 11:19pm IST

* U.S. adds 157,000 jobs in January, jobless rate edges up

* Euro lifted by better-than-forecast euro zone PMI

* Yen continues weakening trend on BOJ easing view

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The dollar tumbled to a more than 14-month low against the euro on Friday after U.S. jobs data reaffirmed expectations the Federal Reserve will maintain its stimulative policy and after euro zone factories had their best month in almost a year.

The yen hit a 2-1/2-year low versus the dollar and a 33-month trough versus the euro, extending its recent weakness on bets the Bank of Japan will ease monetary policy further.

A rally in U.S. stocks added to the momentum as investors shed the safe-haven Japanese currency and piled money into growth-linked, riskier currencies such as the euro.

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, slightly below market expectations and the unemployment rate edged up to 7.9 percent. But job growth in the previous two months was revised higher.

"The latest data is a great mix for a broadening of the 'risk on' trade, with solid payrolls data showing underlying growth was robust into the fiscal cliff," said Alan Ruskin, head of G10 FX strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York. "The rise in the unemployment rate should (be) more friendly for all trades that were fearful of an early Fed withdrawal from QE."

"In sum, for FX nothing to detract from the long euro trade." He added the data should also weigh on the dollar, with the exception of dollar/yen.

The euro rose as high as $1.3711, its strongest since mid-November 2011. It was last at $1.3678, up 0.7 percent on the day. On the week, the euro gained about 1.6 percent versus the dollar.

Further upside targets are seen at $1.3833-35, the 61.8 percent retracement of the move down from May 2011 to July 2012, which also coincides with the July 2011 low. A break of that area opens the door to a rise toward $1.40.

"The main takeaway from the jobs report is that there's no major acceleration or deterioration in the labor market, so that keeps the Fed firmly on hold," said Kathy Lien, managing director BK Asset Management in New York.

The Fed repeated Wednesday that it would keep overnight rates near zero until the unemployment rate hits 6.5 percent, as long as inflation does not threaten to exceed 2.5 percent.

The Fed's bond-buying and loose monetary policies have pressured the dollar and analysts said the dollar will maintain a negative bias as long as the U.S. central bank continues on that path.

The dollar rose 0.8 percent to 92.51 yen, having hit a session high of 92.64 yen, the strongest since June 2010. For the week, the dollar rose about 1.6 percent.

The dollar extended gains versus the yen after U.S. data showed the pace of manufacturing growth picked up in January to its highest level in nine months, while consumer sentiment unexpectedly improved in January.

Selling the yen has become a one-way bet, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe heaping relentless pressure on the Bank of Japan to ease monetary policy aggressively to jolt the economy out of a decade-long malaise.

The euro rose as high as 126.96 yen, the best level since April, 2010, and was last up 1.6 percent at 126.47 yen.

Earlier, a Purchasing Managers' Index survey showed euro zone factories had their most resilient month in nearly a year during January, helped by solid German output.

News that banks will repay less than expected in European Central Bank three-year loans next week dented some demand for the euro, but losses were limited by optimism the worst of the region's debt crisis is over.

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