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Monday April 24, 2006 - 21:07:41 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar drops on G7 talk of imbalances

FOREX-Dollar drops on G7 talk of imbalances
Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:44 PM ET

(Updates prices, adds comment, changes byline)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - The dollar tumbled to a three-month low against the yen on Monday, weighed by calls among finance officials around the world that China should do its part to mend global imbalances by letting its currency strengthen.

The dollar's fall gained momentum after meetings of the Group of Seven richest nations and the International Monetary Fund late last week underscored the unsustainability of the U.S. trade deficit, especially as the Federal Reserve nears the end of its two-year campaign to raise interest rates.

"Overall, it's bearish for the dollar out there," said Liz Bussanich, senior vice president with Bank of Montreal in New York. "You have the G7 communique, shifting reserves ... and it looks like we are closer to the end of the tightening cycle."

The dollar slid 2 percent to 114.25 yen, its lowest since January . The yen is often traded as a proxy for the Chinese yuan, which does not float freely, because of the close geographic proximity and trade ties.

The euro dropped around 1.5 percent to 141.78 yen but rose 0.5 percent against the dollar to $1.2410 , a fresh seven-month high.

"This looks like it is the end of the dollar bull run," said Bussanich.

The dollar index <.DXY> rallied 12 percent last year as the Fed widenened the U.S. interest-rate advantage over several major currencies. But now that the market is anticipating an end of the current U.S. rate cycle, structural factors such as the huge U.S. trade deficit, instrumental in the dollar's three-year drop through the end of 2004, have been surfacing once again.

The focus of traders is expected to quickly shift to congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday.

"While the upcoming semiannual Treasury report on currency policies, due at any time in the next few weeks, will be another key focus in terms of official views on the dollar, the Fed cycle element to dollar weakness is the next key piece that we expect to fall into place," UBS analysts said in a note to clients.

NECESSARY APPRECIATIONS

Finance ministers of some of the world's biggest economies, meeting in Washington over the weekend, called for "necessary appreciations" in the currencies of major exporting nations, especially China, to help resolve global imbalances. For details, see [ID:nN21169234].

The mention of China in the formal statement took markets by surprise to the detriment of the dollar because most analysts believe a more free-floating yuan would gain in value due to the world's demand for Chinese exports.

"When the G7 does something like this, you have to sit up and take notice," said Andrew Busch, global foreign exchange strategist at Harris Nesbitt in Chicago. "This will continue to drive the currency market going forward as the G7 specifically mentioned China and Asian currencies."

The euro gained additional support as comments from Qatar added to speculation that more and more central banks are shifting their reserves away from the dollar and into the euro. [ID:nL24757785] (Additional reporting by Nick Olivari)
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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