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AFP: Dollar gets no kick from economic bailout plan
 
NEW YORK, Oct 3, 2008 (AFP) - The dollar held in a narrow range against the other main currencies Friday as traders tried to gauge the impact of a massive financial sector bailout and digested news of bigger-than-expected US job losses.

The euro, which had at one point plunged to a near 12-month low of 1.3703 dollars, later rebounded and was trading at 1.3781 dollars at 2100 GMT against 1.3818 dollars late Thursday.

The US currency was little changed at 105.27 yen from 105.28 on Thursday.

Trading was volatile as dealers kept a close eye on events in Washington, where the US House of Representatives approved a 700-billion-dollar plan to salvage the shattered financial system and restore confidence to global lenders. The measure was quickly signed by President George W. Bush.

John Kicklighter at Forex Capital Markets cited a "muted reaction" from traders, suggesting "there may be skepticism over this bill's effectiveness."

While markets tried to assess the impact of the plan, trade was impacted by the troubles in the banking sector.

"The euro weakened against the dollar after a surge in demand for dollars," said Christine Li at Moody's Economy.com.

"The escalation in the financial turmoil has caused many European financial institutions to seek to repay their dollar loans, causing a shortage."

Earlier in the day, the euro was under pressure from comments by European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet that were taken to mean a reduction in eurozone interest rates, perhaps as early as next month.

Trichet signalled a shift at the ECB, where it now appears that threats to eurozone growth, rather that inflation, are concentrating minds.

Analysts said the change in priorities pointed to a cut in the benchmark rate, which currently stands at 4.25 percent, far higher than the US Federal Reserve's 2.00 percent.

The dollar's gains were later stalled on a report from the US Labor Department that the US economy lost 159,000 jobs in September as the weight of a housing collapse and credit crunch hit a broad swath of industries.

The report, seen as one of the best indicators of economic momentum, showed a sharp rise in the number of cuts after 73,000 job losses in August.

"The credit crisis has moved into the mainstream economy," said Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors.

"Firms are hunkering down and running as lean as possible. With all the uncertainty over the potential for a steep recession and the inability to get credit, it is hardly surprising that businesses have decided to wait and see. We are likely to see more months of job losses before conditions turn around."

The unemployment rate calculated by a separate survey of households held at 6.1 percent, a five-year high, the Labor Department said.

"Along with the news earlier this week of a collapse in the ISM manufacturing index to a near-recessionary level of 43.5 in September, today's payrolls report adds to the pressure on the Fed to cut rates swiftly," said Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics.

In late New York trade, the dollar stood at 1.1287 Swiss francs from 1.1353 Thursday.

The pound was at 1.7722 dollars after 1.7635.

burs/rl/adp

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