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Tuesday July 29, 2008 - 20:22:35 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar rallies to one-month high on oil drop, data

Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:17pm EDT

* Dollar index jumps to one-month high

* Oil price drops sharply, ignites U.S. stock rally

* July U.S. consumer confidence halts 6-month slide (Recasts, updates prices, adds comments, changes byline)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, July 29 (Reuters) - The dollar soared to a one-month high against a basket of currencies on Tuesday, benefiting from a steep drop in oil prices and an unexpected rise in U.S. consumer confidence.

Analysts said Merrill Lynch's (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) announcement late on Monday of yet another write-down and capital-raising exercise also helped support the dollar, as they raised hopes the turning point in the yearlong credit crisis was close.

"The dollar has been picking up steam since 10 a.m. this morning from the combination of a rally in stocks, higher consumer confidence and dive in oil prices," said Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at The Bank of New York Mellon in New York.

"Euro/dollar has been breaking through some interesting levels, and if we see oil prices trading below $120 a barrel, we might see another push through $1.5550 soon," he added.

The dollar index, which measures the the dollar's performance against a basket of six currencies, jumped to 73.428 .DXY, its highest level in about a month, according to Reuters data.

It was last around 73.301, up 0.9 percent on the day.

Oil CLc1 fell more than $4 a barrel to below $121, touching the lowest price since May, as signs of weakening demand outweighed a disruption to Nigerian output.

A decline in oil prices tends to benefit the dollar, as it eases some of the growth concerns.

There was more good news on the economy, with an independent report showing consumer confidence unexpectedly perked up in July, halting a six-month slide. For details, see [ID:nN29326].


Meanwhile, news that French consumer confidence plunged to a record low for the seventh straight month in July kept investors away from the euro.

The currency dropped as low as $1.5554 <EUR=>. It was last trading at 1.5585, down 1 percent on the day.

The dollar <JPY=> rose 0.6 percent to 108.12 yen as U.S. stocks rallied. The yen was also hurt by news that Japan's jobless rate rose in June to a near two-year high and household spending fell again from a year earlier.

Sterling <GBP=> fell 0.8 percent to $1.9791, weighed down by a report showing British retail sales fell at a record annual pace in July, while approvals for new mortgages hit a record low last month, offering further proof that a deteriorating housing market is battering the overall economy.

Analysts said the French, Japanese and British data was evidence that the effects of the economic slump in the United States were spreading to other regions.

"The dollar's move represents a realignment of expectations," Kathy Lien, chief strategist at, said in a research note.

"The weakness of the U.S. economy has already been priced into the market, but the deterioration in places like the euro zone, New Zealand and the UK is catching many traders by surprise, triggering weakness for the euro, New Zealand dollar and British pound," Lien said.

Second-quarter U.S. GDP on Thursday and Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls figures for July will be the market's main focuses later this week. (Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani and Vivianne Rodrigues; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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