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Tuesday September 2, 2008 - 20:10:17 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-US dollar rises to 10-1/2 month high as oil tumbles

Tue Sep 2, 2008 3:54pm EDT

* Dollar index rise to 10-1/2 month high on oil losses

* Oil falls near $105 a barrel before recovering

* Pound falls to 2-1/2-year low vs dollar

(Updates prices, adds comments, changes byline)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, Sept 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar rose to a 10-1/2 month high as measured by a basket of major currencies on Tuesday, boosted by a sharp drop in oil prices and persistent concerns about the health of other major global economies.

The theme driving global financial markets on Tuesday was crude oil's tumble to as low as $105.46 per barrel earlier CLc1 as Hurricane Gustav had limited impact on energy infrastructure. For details, see [ID:nL281965]. Oil futures last traded down 4.5 percent at $110.22 per barrell.

"The decline in crude oil is probably the big catalyst for the dollar move," said Stephen Malyon, senior currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

Malyon said the greenback also drew support from weakness in high-yielding currencies triggered by the Reserve Bank of Australia's interest-rate cut.

In late afternoon New York trading, the dollar index .DXY rose 0.6 percent to 78.052, after earlier hitting a 10-1/2-month high of 78.310. The index has gained about 9 percent since mid-July.

The euro was down 0.6 percent on the day at $1.4517 <EUR=>, after falling below $1.45 for the first time since February and more than 15 cents off the record high scaled in mid-July.

Sterling hit a 2-1/2-year low of $1.7784 <GBP=> before pulling back to $1.7832, down 1.1 percent. Adding to sterling's woes was a forecast by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development on Tuesday suggesting the U.K. would fall into a recession in late 2008.

Sterling was also under pressure after Britain's finance minister said over the weekend that economic challenges were the greatest in 60 years. The euro rose earlier to a record high of 81.62 pence <EURGBP=>.

The dollar was up 0.7 percent against the yen at 108.86 yen <JPY=>, above a one-month low of 107.63 struck the previous day, according to Reuters data.

A report earlier today showed U.S. factory activity unexpectedly shrank slightly in August while inflation pressures also eased. For more details, see [ID:nN02395318].

"Falling crude prices have widespread benefits for the U.S. economy," said Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT Forex. "Inflation going forward will ease. Today's manufacturing ISM number is the first example of that."


The focus later this week is expected to shift to the news conference that European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet will hold after Thursday's policy meeting, at which the ECB is expected to leave interest rates unchanged at 4.25 percent.

With oil prices falling sharply, investors will look for signs that Trichet's anti-inflation stance is cooling. Oil has fallen more than 25 percent from July's record peaks near $150.

"This week, we're going to see a lot of U.S. economic data, but we're also going to see some pretty soft economic data out of the euro zone," said Andrew Busch, BMO Capital Markets' global FX strategist in Chicago.

Earlier on Tuesday, Australia's central bank cut rates by a quarter percentage point to 7.0 percent, helping shove the Australian dollar down to its lowest in a year. The Australian dollar last traded down 1.3 percent at US$0.8387 <AUD=>.

Investors were also paying close attention to Asian currencies on Tuesday, especially the South Korean won, which hit a nearly four-year low against the dollar despite official warnings of stern measures in the currency market. For more, see: [ID:nSEO84858]. The won last traded 1.3 percent lower at 1130.50 against the dollar. (Additional reporting by Wanfeng Zhou in New York; Editing by tktk)

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