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Monday October 12, 2009 - 10:15:48 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar edges higher vs yen; sterling slammed

Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:40am EDT

* Dollar holds above 90 yen as short positions trimmed

* Euro sheds loss vs dollar, at $1.4726 EUR=

* Sterling slammed on report rates to stay low

* Focus on U.S. third-quarter earnings

By Tamawa Desai

LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a two-week high against the yen on Monday with traders covering short positions as they debated the timing of tightening in U.S. monetary policy, though sentiment on the greenback remained bearish.

The U.S. currency shed early gains against the euro as factors such as large deficits and concern about its status as the pre- eminent reserve currency weighed on the dollar. Data last week showed speculators held large dollar short positions.

"The dollar has pulled away from its lows late last week, but it remains to be seen whether it was anything other than a short squeeze," said Tom Levinson, currency strategist at ING.

By 0856 GMT, the dollar was 0.5 percent higher compared with late Friday's levels at 90.25 yen JPY= after rising to 90.46 yen, its strongest since the start of the month and up from an eight-month low of 88.01 yen hit last week.

The euro was flat on the day at $1.4733 EUR=, after paring early losses. The single European currency also rose 0.5 percent against the yen at 132.94 yen EURJPY=R.

Activity was light with Tokyo markets shut for a one-day holiday and a federal holiday in the United States.

Sterling fell broadly, hitting a near six-month low against a basket of currencies after a report said British interest rates would stay at rock-bottom levels for some time.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said British interest rates would stay at 0.5 percent until 2011 and not rise to 2 percent until 2014. ID:nLB53176]

INTEREST RATES

A surprise rate hike by Australia last week put renewed market focus on the direction of interest rates.

The dollar rebounded after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday that policy could be tightened as a recovery takes hold.

His comments also led to a sell-off in Treasuries, with 10-year U.S. government bond yields rising to two-week highs. Fed fund futures moved to price in a funds rate of around 0.3 percent in the March contract <0#FF:>, up from near zero.

St Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard added to the debate on Sunday, saying medium-term inflation risks in the U.S. economy could be higher than thought.

Later in the week, traders will focus on financial earnings, with results from JP Morgan Chase (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) slated.[RESF/US]

"Earnings should be broadly supportive for risk-taking," said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

U.S. economic data this week include September retail sales and consumer prices as well as industrial and manufacturing numbers.

The dollar index .DXY, a measure of the greenback against six major currencies, was little changed from Friday's close of 76.431. It had hit a 14-month low of 75.767 last week.

The Australian dollar hit a two-month high of 81.49 yen AUDJPY=R and hovered near last month's 14-month peak of $0.9092 to stand at $0.9041 AUD=D4.

The Swedish crown hit a two-week low of 10.3778 crowns per euro EURSEK= with concerns about the outlook for Latvia weighing on the currency as Swedish banks are seen having large exposure to the region.

(Editing by Nigel Stephenson)

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