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Monday July 21, 2008 - 20:41:29 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar falls as worries about U.S. banks persist

 

Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:09pm EDT

* Dollar falls on continued worries about U.S. financials

* Sentiment toward dollar remains cautious

* Investors watching U.S. earnings, oil prices (Recasts; adds comments, changes byline)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) - The dollar fell on Monday as fears of woes in the U.S. financial sector persisted even as Bank of America (BAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) reported better-than-expected results.

The greenback gained earlier against the yen after Bank of America's second-quarter earnings beat analysts' forecast. But investors remained wary ahead of a flurry of bank earnings due this week, including Wachovia (WB.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Tuesday.

The market also focused on 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).

"There was a lack of follow-through buying in the dollar after the Bank of America results," said Steven Butler, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

"The bank's results were less worse, but concerns in the financial sector remain," he said.

In late afternoon trading, the euro was last up 0.3 percent to $1.5898 <EUR=>, below last week's record high of $1.6037 according to Reuters Dealing.

Against the yen <JPY=>, the dollar slipped 0.2 percent to 106.69 yen, while the euro hit a record high at 169.64 yen <EURJPY=EBS>, according to electronic trading platform EBS.

Wall Street stocks closed lower on Monday after trading higher earlier in the session, while oil prices CLc1 rallied, further dampening sentiment toward the greenback.

A slide in the index of U.S. leading indicators last month also weighed on the dollar, analysts say. For details, see [ID:nN21411439].

That index is signaling "further economic deceleration coming in the next three to six months," said Michael Woolfolk, a senior currency strategist at The Bank of New York Mellon in New York.

The dollar regained some strength last week after confidence in the U.S. financial sector, hit hard by the nearly year-old credit crunch, was boosted somewhat following better-than-expected results from Citigroup (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Wells Fargo (WFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

EARNINGS THIS WEEK

"The U.S. dollar looks increasingly vulnerable to further weakness in U.S. data, decline in stock prices or rise in crude oil prices," Woolfolk said.

Troubles at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were also back on traders' radar screens this week. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Sunday he was optimistic Congress would approve the government's request for authority to shore them up.

"The dollar will remain sensitive to stock prices and earnings releases while we await the legislative outcome of the pending GSE reform and housing bill," Woolfolk added.

On Monday, Paulson said in an interview with CNBC that confidence in U.S. capital markets and the U.S. economy is the most important thing to support a strong dollar. [ID:nWBT009443].

An analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will need to raise $10 billion to $15 billion each, and expects stocks in both government-sponsored enterprises to see continued volatility until they raise fresh capital. [ID:nBNG268114].

The market was also awaiting a speech from Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser on Tuesday, while New York Fed President Timothy Geithner and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox are set to testify before a U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing on regulation on Thursday.

The Fed releases its Beige Book anecdotal summary of the economy on Wednesday where it will have to balance weakness in the housing market and the squeeze in credit markets against rising inflation. U.S. home sales data is also due this week. (Additional reporting by Wanfeng Zhou and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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