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Friday August 8, 2008 - 09:52:19 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar gains broadly as growth worries spread

Fri Aug 8, 2008 4:57am EDT

(Changes dateline, byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

* Euro falls to five-month low vs dollar at $1.5141

* ECB cools interest rate rise prospects

* Pound hits 17-month low, kiwi plunges 2 percent

By Simon Falush

LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - The dollar rallied on Friday, hitting a five-month high against the euro as the European Central Bank's caution on its growth outlook shifted the focus of economic concerns from the United States to the rest of the world.

Broad dollar strength pushed the currency's index to its highest in more than five months after traders took a warning from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet about slowing growth as a sign that interest rate increases may be off the agenda for now.

The ECB left rates unchanged at 4.25 percent as expected on Thursday.

"Most of the fall in euro/dollar came from the extremely dovish comments from Trichet, in combination with gloomy data from the euro zone ... but growth is definitely a problem everywhere," said John Hydeskov, senior FX analyst at Danske Markets.

By 0827 GMT the euro had fallen as much as around 1 percent to $1.5141 <EUR=>, down nearly 10 cents from its high hit last month above $1.60.

It fell below major technical support to below its 200-day moving average at $1.5225. It hasn't closed below this technical level since March 2006.

The dollar rose 1 percent against a basket of currencies to 75.283 .DXY, its strongest since late February, while sterling slid 0.8 percent to a 17-month low of $1.9257 <GBP=>.

The dollar gained 0.4 percent against the yen to 109.95 yen, its highest since January <JPY=>.

The euro fell against the yen, dropping 0.6 percent to 166.62 yen <EURJPY=R>.


Concerns about global growth has helped to push oil prices down from a peak of $147 last month to around $119 now CLc1 while gold fell to an eight-week trough on Friday, down 15 percent since its peak in March <XAU=>.

The slide in high-yielding currencies deepened as risk aversion increased and with commodity prices under pressure. The New Zealand dollar fell 2 percent to as low as $0.6985 <NZD=> while the Australian dollar fell 1.5 percent to $0.8936 <AUD=>, a six-month low.

These high-yielding currencies have benefited from strong commodity prices and strong economic growth which supported high interest rates, but concerns about the growth outlook has led investors to expect significant monetary easing.

"The increase in commodity prices seems to be over and monetary policy will be adjusted to reflect the current economic environment which isn't as favourable as it has been," said Danske's Hydeskov.

While the euro has taken a hefty knock after Trichet's comments, some analysts think the underlying inflationary problems will limit its downside.

"We suspect that the hawks on the (ECB) Governing Council will not be too happy with the market's dovish take on the decision," said Calyon in a note to clients. "(We) will not be surprised if some of their big hitters are on the wires over the coming week reminding us all that inflation is too high and perhaps limiting some of the downside EUR move."

(Reporting by Simon Falush, Editing by David Stamp)

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