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Friday April 21, 2006 - 10:27:51 GMT
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FOREX-Euro rallies as Sweden ups its FX reserves share

FOREX-Euro rallies as Sweden ups its FX reserves share
Fri Apr 21, 2006 6:14am ET9

(Recasts, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - The euro rallied against the dollar on Friday, erasing earlier losses after the Swedish central bank said it had increased the common currency's share in its foreign exchange reserves to 50 percent.

The move follows comments in recent weeks by Gulf central banks that they are considering increasing the share of the euro in their reserves.

"There's a feeling that central banks hunt in packs, so even though Riksbank reserves are relatively small, markets will speculate about others doing the same," said Tim Fox, foreign exchange strategist at DrKW.

By 0953 GMT, the euro was up around 0.1 percent on the day against the dollar at $1.2334, having recovered from a session low of $1.2267 hit before Sweden's announcement. The move took it back towards Wednesday's seven-month high of $1.2394.

The euro's move also sparked a rally in other currencies against the dollar, erasing its earlier gains.

The dollar was around 0.1 percent weaker versus the Swiss currency at 1.2778 francs. It was 0.2 percent weaker versus the yen at 117.17 yen, with traders citing dollar/yen selling by commodity trading advisers (CTAs) and Japanese corporates.

Although Sweden's foreign currency reserves are relatively small, at around $21 billion, the size of the shift was significant, analysts said.

The Riksbank said it had cut the dollar's share in its reserves by 17 percentage points to 20 percent, whilst raising the euro by 13 percentage points to 50 percent. It also increased its holding of Norwegian crowns to 10 percent from zero and cut the Japanese yen to zero from eight percent.

"It's quite a large move and I think that's why you are seeing a bigger market reaction at the moment," said Mitul Kotecha, head of global foreign exchange research at Calyon.

"The euro is gaining a stronger foothold in terms of its use as a reserve currency. Clearly it's nowhere near the U.S. dollar, but I think it's important that it's gaining."


Earlier in the session, the dollar had strengthened, as a sell-off in the precious metals market freed up cash to invest in the greenback, helping the U.S. currency to recover from a seven-month low versus the euro hit earlier this week.

There is no major U.S. or euro zone data due on Friday, but Group of Seven finance ministers and central bank governors are meet in Washington later in the day.

The focus for currencies is on whether the group agrees to toughen up the tone of its statement, which at the last meeting contained a thinly veiled reference to China in its call for "more flexibility in exchange rates ... for major countries or economic areas that lack such flexibility".

Washington says Beijing is keeping the yuan artificially low -- despite a July revaluation -- and giving unfair advantage to Chinese exports, leading to a wide U.S. trade deficit with China.

"People would be looking for any actions taken towards a stronger renminbi (yuan) and thereby also stronger yen," said Teis Knuthsen, head of FX and Fixed Income Research at Danske Bank in Copenhagen. "You would argue that any signs that they are not making statements on currencies would be supportive for the dollar."

Chinese President Hu Jintao, on a visit to the United States, gave President George Bush a general assurance he was working to make the yuan more "flexible" on Thursday. But Hu's gesture fell short of U.S. demands for a major revaluation.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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