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Friday April 14, 2006 - 10:57:58 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar marks time in thin Easter trade

FOREX-Dollar marks time in thin Easter trade
Fri Apr 14, 2006 2:04am ET172

By Shinichi Kishima

TOKYO, April 14 (Reuters) - The dollar was little changed on Friday in thin Easter holiday trading, underpinned by expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates further next month.

The currency received a modest boost after Fed Governor Mark Olson, speaking in Arkansas late on Thursday local time, said it could in theory be appropriate for the Fed to raise rates beyond a "neutral" level.

The Chinese central bank's announcement that Beijing will allow Chinese banks and funds to invest overseas also helped support the dollar as such a capital flow out of China could mitigate the upward pressure on the yuan against the dollar.

But the dollar's gains were limited and traders expect activity to dwindle ahead of a series of potentially market-moving events next week, including Chinese President Hu Jintao's first official visit to the United States.

"The market has been entrenched in range-trade for such a long time that people cannot see a reason to buy dollars at the higher end of the range or sell them at the lower end," said Fumihiko Kawano, forex manager at Nomura Securities.

"Until people realise again that there is life outside these ranges, it's difficult to trade on any news. Unfortunately, the holiday makes things worse," he said. The dollar was trading at 118.60 yen at 0550 GMT, up slightly from around 118.55 yen late in New York trading on Thursday.

The euro stood at $1.2110, virtually unchanged.

Markets in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, France, Germany Italy, Switzerland, Canada and the United States will be off for the Good Friday holiday.


Even a rise in the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield above 5 percent for the first time in nearly four years was having little impact on the currency market, traders said.

The yield broke above that psychologically key milestone on Thursday, helped by data showing a rebound in U.S. retail sales in March and a modest improvement in April consumer sentiment.

"Even the interest rate story cannot be a decisive factor at the moment because rates in the U.S., Europe and Japan are all headed in the same direction," said Daisuke Uno, strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

Close on the heels of the U.S. yield spike, The 10-year Japanese government bond yield hit a 5-1/2-year high of 1.980 percent on Friday.

The yen was unfazed by the release of minutes from the Bank of Japan's policy meeting on March 8-9 when the central bank scrapped its five-year-old ultra-easy policy stance.

The minutes showed that members of the policy board said there were medium- to long-term risks of swings in the economy as the effects of its policy strengthened and consumer prices recovered.

Currency investors next week will be taking a look at February U.S. capital flows data on Monday, and U.S. inflation and housing figures later in the week.

The Chinese president will visit Washington on Thursday, and finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the Group of Seven leading economies will meet in Washington the following day.

Ahead of Hu's visit, China said on Friday that it would stick to its policy of reforming its currency regime based on its own interests but with an eye on global needs.

(Additional reporting by Chikako Mogi)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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