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Dollar advances against Japanese yen as banking fears ease

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows U.S. dollar banknotes

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar rose to a five-day high against the Japanese yen on Monday as authorities' efforts to rein in worries over the global banking system helped soothe investor nerves.

The U.S. currency, however, clung to a narrow range against most major currencies as investors appeared hesitant to place big wagers in either direction as they sought clarity on the fallout from the recent collapse of two U.S. lenders and the rescue of Credit Suisse.

"Feels like a market that is tired with overnight ranges very narrow and volumes very light," said Brad Bechtel, global head of FX at Jefferies.

"The calendar is a bit lighter this week than it has been in a while and there were no emergencies over the weekend to keep everyone busy and so we open in a state of anxious calm," Bechtel said.

Global banking stocks, which have been battered this month following the sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, received some respite on Monday after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said First Citizens BancShares Inc would acquire all of Silicon Valley Bank's deposits and loans from the regulator.

This helped ease some fears of contagion in Europe with an index of European banking shares up up 1.43%, led by Deutsche Bank which jumped 6.15% after an 8.5% slide on Friday. The S&P 500 Banks Index was up 3.49%.

Easing worries helped the dollar rise 0.77% to 131.75 yen, reversing some of its recent losses against the Japanese currency. Risk-averse investors had sent the yen to a seven-week high of 129.65 per dollar on Friday and the currency was on track to clock a 3.5% gain in March.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against six rivals, was 0.087% lower on the day at 102.9, not far from the near 7-week low of 101.91 touched on Thursday.

The euro was 0.3% higher at $1.0794, after data on Monday showed German business morale unexpectedly improved in March despite the banking sector turmoil.

"The USD is narrowly mixed and may continue to range trade in the short run," Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank, said in a note.

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates by 25 basis points, as expected, but took a cautious stance on the outlook because of the banking sector turmoil. However, Chair Jerome Powell kept the door open for further rate rises if necessary.

Markets are pricing in around a 55% chance of the Fed standing pat on interest rates in its next meeting in May and anticipate a rate cut as early as July.

Sterling was higher against the dollar after Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey signalled on Monday that interest rate-setters would focus on fighting inflation and would not be swayed unduly by worries about the health of the global banking system. The British pound was up 0.45% at $1.2283.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin fell 1.94% to $27,092, extending its retreat from the 9-month high of $28,917.46 hit last week.

(Reporting by Saqib Aiqbal Ahmed; Additional reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Singapore and Samuel Indyk in London, Editing by Ken Ferris and Angus MacSwan)