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Monday June 16, 2008 - 09:45:24 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar hits 4-month high vs yen, G8 shrugged off

Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:57am EDT

(Changes dateline, adds comment, updates prices)

* Dollar hits highest vs yen since mid-February

* Speculators take profits on earlier dollar slide

* Potential seen for more comments blasting dollar weakness

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a four-month high versus the yen on Monday as investors reckoned that officials may keep pushing for a stronger U.S. currency even after a Group of Eight communique at the weekend made no mention of its recent weakness.

The U.S. currency recovered from an earlier slide after G8 finance ministers, in the absence of central bankers, avoided commenting on currencies and instead focused on soaring commodity prices [ID:nSP147143]. But on the sidelines of the meeting, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson repeated that he backed a strong dollar.

Analysts said markets had not given up on the possibility of more dollar-friendly statements, given that rising inflation is seen prompting a U.S. interest rate rise.

Adam Cole, global head of currency strategy at RBC, said he expected a more united position supporting dollar strength to come out at a G8 meeting of world leaders in July, when central bankers will be present.

"I think the issue of the G8 attitude towards the dollar is still up in the air at the moment and in that sense, the market has bought the dollar back after the sell-off," he said.

The dollar climbed as high as 108.58 yen <JPY=> on Reuters data to hit its strongest level since mid-February. At 0826 GMT, it was up 0.2 percent at 108.32 yen.

The euro slipped as low as $1.5347, before pushing back up to near the day's high of $1.5437 <EUR=>.

The single currency at one point approached a one-month low hit on Friday after Irish voters rejected a treaty promoting closer European Union unity [ID:nL13824515].

But market players doubted that the rejection would have a sustained impact on the euro since the treaty mainly concerned the strengthening of political ties and seemed to have fewer economic implications.

Analysts said the single currency would remain supported on the possibility that the European Central Bank may lift rates as early as July due to rising inflation risks.

Growing concern about rising inflation in the euro zone was highlighted in comments by ECB Executive Board member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell, who on Monday said increasing wage pressures in the euro zone were producing worrying signs [ID:nWEA9507].

FOCUS ON MONETARY POLICY

The dollar has gained steadily this month, recovering from a record low scraped against the euro in April.

Helping the currency has been Federal Reserve President Ben Bernanke, who earlier in the month said that concern was growing about U.S. inflation, due in part to a weak dollar, fuelling speculation for a rate rise in the coming months.

The fact that there was no overt opposition to Paulson's comments of support for a strong dollar could be positive for the currency, said a trader for a European investment bank in Tokyo.

"It suggests that there is some consensus beneath the surface, that everyone is willing to cooperate," the trader said. Whether that will lead to any intervention is another matter, he added.

The dollar, however, could come under pressure if quarterly earnings announcements by U.S. investment banks this week rekindle concerns about the financial sector's losses from the turmoil in credit markets, traders said. (Editing by Malcolm Whittaker)

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