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Wednesday July 23, 2008 - 13:28:23 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar bolstered by oil, stocks; yen suffers

 

Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:56am EDT

* Dollar gains broadly, risk appetite improves

* Greenback supported by Fed rhetoric, falling oil price

* Euro hits record high at 169.98 yen <EURJPY=>

(Changes byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a one-month peak against the yen and a two-week high versus the euro on Wednesday, buoyed by a sharp slide in oil prices, a recovery in stocks and hawkish rhetoric from U.S. officials.

With oil more than $20 below this month's record peaks CLc1 and world stocks on a six-day winning streak for the first time in two months .MIWD00000PUS, the improved risk appetite pushed the low-yielding, safe-haven yen to a record low against the euro as investors sought higher returns elsewhere.

Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser, a known hawk, said on Tuesday that rising inflation could force the Fed to start raising interest rates even before labour and financial markets recover, giving the dollar a boost.

The dollar got more support after U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Tuesday that a strong U.S. currency is "really very important".

"The dollar has come back from the brink again. Oil prices helped, some of the news from the U.S. financial sector is coming out as bad as thought, and with equities rebounding that's playing into the dollar's hands," said Martin McMahon, FX strategist at Credit Suisse in Zurich.

"Comments from Plosser and Paulson too... were moderately dollar positive. But we don't see this as a start of a change for the trend in the dollar just yet -- the problems of the U.S. economy are still there and it's not clear whether this is a definitive oil price correction anyway," he added.

By 1037 GMT the dollar had reached its highest in a month at 107.89 yen <JPY=>. The euro had fallen as low as $1.5719 <EUR=>, its weakest in a fortnight and more than three U.S. cents below last week's record highs.

Adding to the euro's downside was data showing euro zone new orders falling at their fastest monthly pace in 6-1/2 years.

Reflecting improved risk appetite, the dollar rose to a one-month high of 1.0365 safe-haven Swiss francs <CHF=>, while the euro scaled a two month peak at 1.6305 francs <EURCHF=>.

The euro rose to a record high 169.98 yen <EURJPY=> according to Reuters data before pulling back to 169.67 yen.

BIG THURSDAY

Analysts said that a bumper data day on Thursday -- along with oil price and equity developments -- would be key in determining whether the slide in euro/dollar lasts or soon gives way to another try at the $1.60 level and above.

U.S. existing home sales will vie for attention with German Ifo business sentiment survey and euro zone flash PMIs.

"We remain cautious in chasing the dollar higher at present, but if the earnings season concludes without incident, and key euro zone data continue to deteriorate, EUR/USD may turn decisively," UBS said in a research note.

"Disappointment with tomorrow's Ifo release may open the way to further EUR/USD downside."

The biggest loser among the majors was the New Zealand dollar, which slipped over 1 percent to US$0.7508 <NZD=> after New Zealand finance company Hanover Finance said it was suspending repayments of existing loans and interest.

Analysts said there could be scope for a recovery though if the Reserve Bank of New Zealand leaves rates on hold at 8.25 percent on Thursday, disappointing minority bets for a cut.

Most analysts expect it to start easing policy rates -- which are currently the highest among industrialised nations -- at its following meeting, in September.

The outlook for UK monetary policy is less clear, with Bank of England minutes on Wednesday showing that one policymaker unexpectedly voted for a rate hike this month, in addition to an as-forecast call for a cut from arch dove David Blanchflower.

The outcome boosted sterling across the board, sending the euro to a three-week low of 78.76 pence <EURGBP=>.

(Editing by Victoria Main)

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