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Wednesday April 9, 2008 - 20:01:27 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar falls broadly before ECB rate meeting

Wed Apr 9, 2008 3:56pm EDT

(Recasts; adds comments, changes byline)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, April 9 (Reuters) - The dollar fell broadly on Wednesday as traders snapped up the euro a day ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting expected to deliver more tough inflation talk and signals the ECB is not ready to cut interest rates.

This would be in sharp contrast to the deteriorating economic picture in the United States, where minutes of the Federal Reserve's March policy-meeting released on Tuesday showed that members believed a prolonged and severe economic downturn could not be ruled out.

Analysts said the minutes cemented expectations the Fed would lower its benchmark lending rate by at least 25 basis points later this month, further boosting the euro's yield advantage against the dollar.

The dollar also fell sharply against the yen and the Swiss franc as U.S. stocks declined on worries about the outlook for corporate profits and as crude prices rose to record highs.

"The combination of dovish Fed minutes and an expected hawkish stance by the ECB tomorrow is putting pressure on the dollar," said Camilla Sutton, a currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto. "The ECB is widely expected to keep rates unchanged, keeping the yield advantage in favor of the euro."

The euro vaulted to a session peak of $1.5864, just shy of a record high of $1.5905 hit last month. In late afternoon trading, the euro EUR was last at $1.5821, up 0.8 percent from Tuesday and still within the week's trading ranges.

CREDIT WORRIES LINGER

Interest rate futures, which measure market sentiment toward Fed monetary policy, are pricing in about a 40 percent chance that fed funds rate would be cut by another half percentage point at the April 29-30 meeting.

Since mid-September, the Fed has lowered its benchmark overnight lending rate by 3 percentage points to 2.25 percent, erasing the dollar's yield advantage over the euro. The ECB has kept its refinancing rate at 4 percent.

A decline in U.S. stocks and lingering concerns about the credit markets added to the dollar's woes versus the yen and the Swiss franc.

The dollar fell to a session low of 101.51 yen <JPY=> and reversed earlier gains that had taken it near a one-month high. It was last trading at 101.77 yen, down 0.8 percent on the day.

Against the Swiss currency, the greenback dropped 1.3 percent to 1.0016 francs <CHF=>.

News that the Fed was considering further steps to address liquidity reminded investors that the credit crisis was far from over. For details, see [ID;nN09451835]

"The Fed is floating ideas on how to extend its balance sheet without printing money," said David Gilmore, partner at FX Analytics in Essex, Connecticut. "The market rushed to the notion that the credit crisis is behind us. The idea that we can price a recovery before we price a recession is ludicrous and we are going to continue to wake up to runs on the dollar and weak equity markets."

With the ECB expected to keep rates unchanged after its policy meeting, the euro hit a record high of 80.12 pence <EURGBP=> against sterling earlier.

Data showing that UK consumer morale fell to its lowest level in four years in March and the International Monetary Fund's reduction in its growth outlook stoked debate on how aggressively the Bank of England might cut rates after its policy meeting on Thursday. (Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Leslie Adler)

© 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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