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Monday April 3, 2006 - 21:50:28 GMT
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FOREX - Dollar weakens against euro after US factory data

FOREX-Dollar weakens against euro after US factory data
Mon Apr 3, 2006 4:10 PM ET163

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) - The dollar fell slightly against the euro on Monday after a report showed a surprise slowdown in U.S. manufacturing sector growth last month, suggesting economic growth is moderating.

Meanwhile, the euro was broadly stronger -- rising to a fresh two-year peak against the Swiss franc and testing a one-year high against sterling -- ahead of a policy setting meeting of the European Central Bank.

The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing activity index in March slipped to 55.2 from 56.7 in February, falling short of the expected rise to 57.9. For details, please click on [ID:nN03283209].

By mid-afternoon, the euro rose 0.2 percent from late Friday, to $1.2144 , and climbed 0.2 percent also against the Swiss franc to 1.5845 francs .

Against sterling, the euro edged up 0.1 percent to 69.89 pence .

The euro began trading on Monday in New York at around $1.2050, a level traders said was attractive for corporate accounts looking to hedge their exposure.

"The ISM was really all that was needed to turn the tide on the buck," said Robert Houck, a euro trader with Wells Fargo Bank in Minneapolis.

The ISM report was in stark contrast with an overnight report that showed that euro zone manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in five years. For details, please click on [ID:nL03790654].

While the ECB is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged when it meets on Thursday, Monday's data support the current view that the central bank will signal in forthcoming speeches that a hike in May is likely, boosting the euro.

"With ECB tightening risk remaining to the upside of market expectations, the euro is expected to remain well bid versus the key European crosses near-term," said currency strategists with UBS.

PLAYING PAYROLLS

The surprise dip on the ISM index helped to erase most of the dollar's overnight gains, which had been fueled by its rise against the yen, as Japanese investors started their new financial year by buying higher-yielding foreign assets.

Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes, which had earlier on Monday risen to their highest since June 2002 at 4.905 percent , eased back to their session lows and helped take the steam out of the dollar's rally. For more on U.S. government debt, click here [ID:nN03329860].

The dollar was flat at 117.65 yen , more than a full yen off the three-week high of 118.80 yen reached earlier in the global session.

The dollar was little changed against the Swiss franc at 1.3045 francs .

Analysts said market participants were likely hesitant to take big positions ahead of the ECB meeting and the March U.S. payrolls report due on Friday.

The euro may rise further but could very well retrace heading into the jobs report, as traders consolidate risk heading into the data.

"I wouldn't want to be short of dollars going into payrolls on Friday," said David Mozina, head of New York currency strategy at Lehman Brothers. "I would be positioned for more dollar strength for the rest of the week." (Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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