Friday March 20, 2009 - 10:37:31 GMT
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Reuters - www.reuters.com
FOREX NEWS-Dollar steadies, eyes steepest weekly fall in 24 years
* Dollar under pressure as Fed's QE weighs
* Dlr index on track for largest weekly fall since 1985
* Euro set for biggest weekly rise since 1999 inception
* Kiwi racks up biggest weekly surge since 1985 float
(Changes byline and dateline, previous Sydney, updates
By Kirsten Donovan
LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - The dollar inched higher on
Friday, but was still on track for its biggest weekly drop in 24
years against a basket of currencies as investors feared the
Federal Reserve's plans to buy longer-term government debt would
undermine the value of the world's main reserve currency.
The euro reversed earlier gains, easing back from above
$1.37 as investors booked profits on this week's sharp rally and
some cited concerns about weaker euro zone members.
The dollar has fallen over 5 percent against the basket of
currencies this week, heading for its biggest weekly decline
A fall of 5.2 percent at the close later on Friday would also
make this week's dollar plunge the biggest since 1973 when the
Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates was finally
"Although it's too early to say it's a turning point, the
Fed's decision to go down the QE (quantitative easing) route may
be the first step of things stabilising and finding a bottom.
The recession will still be prolonged and deep but it's a step
in the right direction," said Christian Lawrence, an FX
strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
The dollar has tended to rise in recent weeks along with
falls in global appetite for risk as investors retreated to U.S.
assets still seen as the safest bet as the global economy tanks.
But analysts said the Fed's decision to buy $300 billion of
longer-term government debt and vastly expand its balance sheet
beyond the current $2 trillion meant more and more of the U.S.
currency would be created, giving a huge boost to the supply of
The Fed's historic move also drove Treasury yields down by
the most in 26 years, reducing the dollar's yield allure, while
raising inflationary risks in the longer term.
The dollar index was up 0.2 percent on the day at 83.281
having fallen as far as 82.631 on Thursday, the lowest in two
EURO EYES RECORD WEEK
The euro was 0.15 percent lower at $1.3646 <EUR=>, having
climbed to a peak of $1.3737 on Thursday, the highest since
The common currency was up almost 6 percent from last
Friday's $1.2922 close, the biggest increase since its inception
But earlier gains were reversed after comments from a senior
German lawmaker -- later denied by the ECB [nWEA3559] -- that
euro zone countries had agreed a rescue plan to prevent members
of the currency bloc going bankrupt [ID:nBAE001626].
"It's the end of the week and because there's been a big
move higher, people who bought ahead of the FOMC or on the way
up, they are going to take a bit of profit," said Adarsh Sinha,
a currency strategist at Barclays Capital.
"The first reaction after the Fed was to sell everything but
as the day moves on we might see some differentiation in what
currencies people are buying against the dollar."
The dollar edged up 0.3 percent to 94.76 yen <JPY=>, after
falling as far as 93.52 and having shed 4 percent on the week.
The New Zealand dollar was the biggest beneficiary of the
dollar's woes and the revival of risk appetite, surging 7
percent on the week -- on track for its best week since the
currency was floated in 1985. The kiwi was at $0.5598 <NZD=>.
This week's dollar fall slowed after U.S. stocks fell on
Thursday [.N] on concerns that the Fed's actions may be too
costly. Investors were unsettled by the implications of the
central bank's actions, fearing the moves could stir up
inflation in the long term.
(Reporting by Kirsten Donovan; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)
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