Friday October 10, 2008 - 21:20:15 GMT
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Reuters - www.reuters.com
FOREX NEWS-US dollar index touches 15-month high as G7 meets
* Dollar rises to 15-month high vs basket of currencies
* G7 in focus as markets clamor for crisis solution
* Financial markets remain volatile
(Adds quotes, byline, updates prices)
By Nick Olivari
NEW YORK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar surged to a
15-month high against a basket of other major currencies on
Friday as plunging stocks and persistently tight credit markets
prompted investors to scramble for cash in the world's reserve
With a 6.7 percent gain in the last two weeks, the basket,
known as the Intercontinental Exchange's U.S. dollar index, is
having its best two weeks since September 1992.
Earlier the flight to safety sent the yen to a more than
six-month high against the dollar and a three-year peak versus
the euro. The Japanese currency also rose against
higher-yielding units such as the Australian and New Zealand
dollars, as carry trades were unwound.
In such trades, investors borrow the low-yielding yen to
buy assets in higher-yielding currencies.
Investors are looking to the Group of Seven industrial
nations finance ministers and central bankers, meeting now in
Washington, for remedies to revive the global banking system
after recent bailouts, liquidity injections and coordinated
rate cuts failed to thaw frozen credit markets.
"The U.S. dollar continues to trade broadly stronger on an
aggregate basis as risk aversion continues to be the key driver
of forex and equity markets globally," said Dustin Reid, senior
currency strategist at RBS Global Banking & Markets in
"The demand for dollars on the funding side remains high.
As long as markets remain risk-averse to this degree, it is
difficult to see the U.S. dollar making a material reversal
despite many of the issues currently gripping global markets
being home grown," he said.
In late New York trading, the ICE dollar index, which
tracks the value of the greenback against a basket of six
currencies, rose 1.25 percent to 82.450 .DXY, after rising as
high as 83.191, the strongest since June 2007.
The euro fell 1.5 percent against the dollar at $1.3399
<EUR=> after touching an 18-1/2-month low. The euro has lost
7.8 percent against the dollar in two weeks, the worst two-week
period since its introduction at the start of 1999.
G7 ACTION AWAITED
Coordinated interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and
other major central banks this week failed to relieve investor
fears that the freeze in credit markets will damage banks
further and provoke a deep recession around the world.
Early in the New York session, U.S. stocks tumbled, sending
the benchmark S&P 500 index below 900 for the first time in
five years as investors liquidated risky bets. By the close,
they had rallied off the lows but still ended lower on the
"There are hopes out there that the G7 meeting will end
with some coordinated action from policymakers. It is still an
extremely volatile, extremely nervous market," said Vassili
Serebriakov, senior currency strategist at Wells Fargo in New
"But in our view, the events of the last week have shown
policymakers are prepared to do whatever it takes to stabilize
markets. There is a global understanding of the severity of the
problem," he added.
The dollar got an added boost when a a G7 official said on
Friday the Group of Seven major nations is unlikely to adopt
Britain's proposal to guarantee lending between banks.
The euro last traded down 0.4 percent to 134.57 yen
<EURJPY=>, after hitting a three-year trough of 132.26 yen.
The higher-yielding Australian dollar fell 5 percent to
US$0.6484 <AUD=>, while the New Zealand dollar dropped 1.1
percent to US$0.5987 <NZD=>.
The U.S. dollar traded up 1 percent at 100.41 yen <JPY=>,
coming off its worst level since March, according to Reuters
Even with Friday's move the dollar had its worst week
against the yen since November 1999 at current prices.
Yen strength began to fade late in the New York session as
some investors bet that risk tolerance could be higher in the
The dollar had its best week against the Swiss franc since
January 2005 at current prices
Sterling had its worst week against the dollar since
November 1992 at current prices.
"The currency markets are definitely trading on the hope of
a big coordinated action post-G7," said Kathy Lien, head of
currency research at GFT Forex in New York.
(Additional reporting by Steven C Johnson and Wanfeng Zhou;
Editing by James Dalgleish)
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