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Tuesday January 15, 2008 - 12:24:29 GMT
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FOREX NEWSDlr trims losses after Citi results, awaits data

Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:17am EST

(Recasts to includes Citi results, changes byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The dollar recovered from a seven-week low against the yen on Tuesday after Citi announced smaller than expected write-downs, slightly easing concerns about the health of the U.S. economy.

Citi announced write-downs of $18.1 billion in the fourth quarter, slightly below press reports that had suggested write-downs of as much as $20 billion.

The fact that the news was not as bad as some had feared led investors to pare back short dollar positions and move out of the low-yielding, safe-haven yen. However, the reaction was relatively muted, with the dollar still down on the day.

"It's a case of buy the rumour, sell the fact, 18 yards (billion) of losses is a big number but the market is happy to have the bad news out of the way," said Geoff Kendrick, currency strategist at Westpac.

"(But) the market is still worried that the Fed is going to cut aggressively ... which will lead to more dollar weakness," he added.

Citigroup Inc (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research) is the first big bank this week to report fourth-quarter earnings and the spotlight will now shift to others, including JP Morgan on Wednesday. Investors are looking to see how much the credit crisis is damaging banks' bottom lines and increasing the risk of a recession.

At 1153 GMT the dollar was down 0.3 percent to 107.81 yen <JPY=>, having recovered some ground after the Citi results. Earlier it had matched Monday's seven-week low of 107.35 yen.

The euro also slipped to seven-week lows of 159.39 yen <EURJPY=> before recovering to 160.19 yen.

The euro was steady at $1.4866, staying within sight of the November's $1.4966 all-time high <EUR=>.


Futures markets were reflecting a roughly 50-50 chance of the Fed slashing interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point to 3.50 percent by the end of the month.

The European Central Bank, by contrast, is widely seen as keeping rates steady for now at 4 percent and a weaker than forecast ZEW German sentiment indicator did little to change this view [ID:nBAE001039].

U.S. retail data at 1330 GMT also provides further scope for dollar weakness as a weak number could strengthen the case for aggressive, growth-boosting interest rate cuts

"The risk is probably asymmetric to the downside in terms of market reaction," Adam Cole, global head of FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets said. "If it's a soft number it will be seen as evidence that the slowdown is on the way, and opening up the way for the Fed to ease as aggressively as it likes."

U.S. retail sales are seen flat on the month in December. Producer prices data is also due at the same time.

The high-yielding Australian and New Zealand dollars -- which tend to trade in tandem with risk appetite -- continued to hold up well although the strong yen and the falling equity markets pointed to an increase in risk aversion.

The Australian dollar hit a fresh two-month peak at US$0.9018 <AUD=>, helped by a widening yield advantage as expectations grew that Australian interest rates will rise as early as next month on strong domestic data.

"The stream of positive data have led the market to gradually build on rate hike expectations for the RBA's February meeting, explaining why the AUD remains well supported," said BNP Paribas in a note to clients.

Record gold prices <XAU=> also lent the Aussie support.

The New Zealand dollar, meanwhile, stopped just a few ticks short of six-month highs versus the U.S. currency <NZD=>. (Editing by David Christian-Edwards)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.


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