June 4, 2010 / 4:19 PM / 9 years ago

FOREX-Euro falls below $1.20 on Hungary fears

* Euro falls below $1.20, lowest in more than 4 years

* Dollar falls vs yen after below consensus US jobs data

* Traders cite macro, model accounts as sellers of euros

* Worries about Hungary’s finances weigh on euro (Adds details, comments. Updates prices)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, June 4 (Reuters) - The euro fell below $1.20 on Friday, its lowest level in more than four years, on concern Europe’s debt crisis is expanding to Hungary and as U.S. stock losses surpassed 2 percent.

Investors shunned riskier assets and bought currencies perceived as safe-havens, such as the yen and Swiss franc, as a government report showed U.S. non-farm payrolls grew at a slower-than-expected rate in May.

Analysts said the data disappointed investors looking for a stronger figure and reinforced the view the U.S. economic recovery may be slow. [ID:nN04325867].

Concerns about public finances in Hungary weighed on sentiment towards the single currency as the Hungarian forint fell to a one-year low versus the euro EURHUF=R. For details, see [ID:nLDE6530ZT]

“The euro was already getting hammered on worries about Hungary and with the nonfarm payrolls not living up to expectations, the risk trade is under assault from every angle,” said Boris Schlossberg, director of currency research at GFT Forex, in New York.

The euro fell as low as $1.1972, according to EBS trading platform, and in midday trading in New York was 1.3 percent lower at $1.9999 EUR=.

U.S. employers created 431,000 jobs in May, the U.S. Labor Department said, below the 513,000 increase predicted by analysts polled by Reuters. The jobless rate fell more than expected to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent in April. For more, see [ID:nOAT004640]

“It’s mainly disappointing,” said Vassili Serebriakov, senior currency strategist at Wells Fargo Bank in New York. “The pace of the recovery in the jobs sector is not as fast as some of the optimistic expectations in the market.”

The dollar was about 0.9 percent lower at 91.86 yen JPY=, after hitting a session low of 91.69 yen according to Reuters data.

The yen also rose against the euro and the Australian and New Zealand dollars.

“The data is clearly risk negative and the purest currency trades are short commodity currencies versus the Japanese yen,” said Alan Ruskin, head of currency strategy at RBS Global Banking & Markets, in Stamford, Connecticut. “But the most pressing problems are in Europe.”

FRENCH PM’S REMARKS

Selling pressure on the single currency started prior to the U.S. jobs report, with the euro hitting its lowest against the dollar in more than four years after comments by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on exchange rates.

Fillon said he was not concerned by the current level of the euro to the dollar and that he saw only “good news” in the parity between the two currencies. Later the remarks were clarified saying his reference to “parity” was about the general evolution of the exchange rate between the euro and the dollar. [ID:nWEA4967]

Still, the comments caused the euro to fall steeply also against the Swiss franc, which traders attributed to an absence of bids from the Swiss National Bank, which has recently intervened to keep the franc from appreciating.

Traders cited model and macro accounts, as well as central banks, as selling the single currency.

A daily close under the 50 percent retracement of the 2000-2008 euro rally at $1.2135 would be seen as a bearish signal for the euro, technical analysts said.

But hedge fund advisor Medley Global Advisors issued a report saying China is buying euro-denominated assets in order to underpin the currency, which may have contributed to a slight strengthening in the euro against the dollar earlier. [ID:nN04121759]

Additional reporting by Steve C. Johnson and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay

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