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Monday July 7, 2008 - 10:53:55 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dlr at 1-wk highs vs majors as oil retreats

Mon Jul 7, 2008 6:46am EDT

* Dollar index up 0.4 pct at 73.008

* Retreating oil price helps boost dollar as G8 meets

* Less hawkish ECB still weighing on euro

(Updates prices, adds comments, changes byline)

By Ian Chua

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - The dollar hit 1-1/2 week highs against a basket of major currencies on Monday driven in part by speculation that comments from G8 officials could push oil prices further away from last week's record highs.

The dollar tends to benefit from lower oil prices, which have fallen more than $3 from a peak of $145.85 CLc1, because the United States is such a heavy energy consumer.

Data showing an unexpected drop in euro zone investor morale in July to its lowest level since June 2005 did no favours for the euro, which was already hit by diminished expectations of further European Central Bank rate hikes after last Thursday's 25 basis point move to 4.25 percent.

German industrial output unexpectedly declined in May, further darkening the outlook for the euro zone. [ID:nL0712060]

"It's a continuation of the momentum that was in the market since the ECB announcement last Thursday. I'd certainly be of the view that the move may be a little overdone ... the U.S. (economy) is still in a lot of trouble," said Derek Halpenny, senior currency economist at BTM-UFJ.

"I'm not bullish on the euro because Europe is avoiding a slow down. It's very clear that global growth is slowing ... but FX is all about relative differences, and on a relative basis, I still think the euro zone looks a lot better particularly against the United States and also Japan."

The dollar index .DXY climbed 0.4 percent to 73.008 after earlier peaking at 73.151, a level last seen on June 25. The U.S. unit pushed 0.7 percent higher to 107.52 yen <JPY=>.

The euro eased 0.3 percent to $1.5652 <EUR=> by 1034 GMT, nearly three cents below two-month highs seen on Thursday before the ECB decision.

FURTHER EURO WEAKNESS?

After the widely expected rate hike on Thursday, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said he had no bias on further policy moves, prompting markets to trim bets for more policy tightening.

Near-term, analysts said the euro could see further pressure.

"Now that further rate hikes from the ECB appear to be very much in doubt, the greenback's strength is likely to come not so much from any shockingly positive U.S. economic news, but rather from further speculative unwinding of euro long positions," said Boris Schlossberg, senior currency strategist at FXCM.

"That unwinding may continue this week possibly testing the $1.5500 level."

One of the major movers on the day was sterling <GBP=>, which fell 0.7 percent to $1.9680 after news that British industrial output fell much more than expected in May, highlighting the twin threats of a sharply slowing economy and rising inflation facing the central bank.

No major U.S. data is due on Monday, but San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen will speak later in the day.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak at a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp forum on Tuesday, and give testimony before the House Financial Services committee on Thursday, although he is expected to confine his comments to financial market regulation.

Investors have started to take the view that risks to growth and concern about the financial sector will prevent the Fed from raising the fed funds rate from 2 percent for now.

However, markets are still pricing in a quarter-point rise before the end of the year FEDWATCH. (Additional reporting by Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Gerrard Raven)

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