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Thursday July 17, 2008 - 21:05:08 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Dollar rises with stocks as oil price plunges

Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:30pm EDT

* Dollar rises as oil prices plunge

* Euro wobbles, though ECB official warns on inflation

* Financial market turmoil leaves dollar on shaky ground

(Recasts, updates prices, adds comment, changes byline)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, July 17 (Reuters) - The dollar surged against the yen on Thursday and erased earlier losses versus the euro as oil prices plunged and investors worried that high energy costs and financial market turmoil were slowing global growth.

U.S. stocks also rallied as oil fell for a third straight day. That helped the dollar post its biggest daily gain against the yen in more than three months.

The euro, which set a record above $1.60 on Tuesday, at one point fell below $1.58 for the first time this week as investors began focusing on the headwinds facing the euro zone economy.

"The dollar has already gone through a massive correction, but we haven't had that in other currencies," said David Watt, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

"So, if we start growing concerned about global growth, it's not necessarily positive for the dollar but it is negative for other major currencies."

Oil has gained 35 percent this year alone, at one point hitting a record high above $147. It fell more than $5 on Thursday to $129.29 CLc1, its lowest level in six weeks.

The dollar last traded at 106.45 yen <JPY=>, up 1.3 percent, its best daily performance since early April. It touched a session high of 107.09 earlier in the session.

The euro exited New York trade up about 0.1 percent at $1.5840 <EUR=> after falling to a session low of $1.5784. It edged higher after Merrill Lynch (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) announced earnings and said it was selling assets to raise capital.

Earlier, better-than-expected second-quarter results from JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) helped eased concern about the stability of the U.S. financial sector that has weighed on the dollar.


The euro hit a record of $1.6037 earlier this week as the U.S. Treasury was forced into launching a rescue plan for troubled U.S. mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) shortly after the collapse of IndyMac, one of the country's biggest mortgage banks.

"The dollar has rallied a lot today, and I think people got themselves positioned one way earlier this week, sort of betting on the end of the financial system, and we are now seeing the last of that bet unwound," said David Gilmore, principal at Foreign Exchange Analytics in Essex, Connecticut.

But the dollar's gains remained tentative, analysts said, particularly given the state of uncertainty surrounding U.S. financial markets and the slumping housing market.

The U.S. currency wobbled earlier on Thursday when Kuwait's finance minster said it had no plans to buy more Fannie or Freddie debt and was looking to invest in Japan, China and India instead.

Other signs foreign investors are souring on U.S. assets could renew pressure on the U.S. currency, with the euro, sterling and yen the most likely beneficiaries, analysts said.

European Central Bank governing council member Nout Wellink also provided a euro boost earlier when he said slower euro zone growth would not necessarily reduce high inflation.

Record high euro zone consumer price inflation prompted the ECB to hike rates to 4.25 percent this month.

The case is more complicated for the Fed, which is facing mounting inflation pressures on one hand and ever slower growth and market turmoil on the other.

A report on Thursday showing factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region contracted in July was the latest bit of subpar economic news.

"The last thing the Fed is going to do right now is raise interest rates," said Nouriel Roubini, business professor at New York University's Stern School of Business and head of Roubini Global Economics. "If anything, it will have to cut rates in the fall because the financial crisis and recession will become more severe," he said, keeping the dollar in a $1.50-$1.60 range per euro.

(Additional reporting by Nick Olivari and Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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