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Thursday April 27, 2006 - 00:27:22 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar hits 7-month low vs euro; Bernanke looms

FOREX-Dollar hits 7-month low vs euro; Bernanke looms
Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:28 PM ET

(Updates prices, adds comments)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, April 26 (Reuters) - The dollar fell against the euro on Wednesday for the fourth consecutive session, slipping to seven-month lows as a renewed focus on U.S. deficits took attention away from otherwise solid U.S. economic data.

Analysts said the dollar's failure to rise even after a strong durable goods report and surprisingly robust new home sales data highlighted just how negative the market had turned on the U.S. currency. For details on the data, see [ID:nN26378809].

However, some analysts said the euro's rapid 3-cent ascent in the last two weeks could mean the euro zone currency is in store for a correction lower ahead of congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday.

"You have technical momentum and bearish dollar sentiment driving things right now," said Rebecca Patterson, currency strategist with JPMorgan Chase in New York.

"But as more and more people get the position on for the dollar to sell off, you are going to need some new news. I think we might be closer to the end of this move than the beginning," Patterson added.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.2445, after climbing to $1.2470. Traders said a break above $1.25 could induce a further rise in the euro.

The dollar slipped 0.1 percent to 114.72 yen , still above a 3-month low around 114.20 struck on Monday.

BRACING FOR BERNANKE

The near-term course for the dollar could be determined by Bernanke and whether the tone of his comments indicates the U.S. central bank is leaning toward tightening policy further or keeping things steady.

"If it is the inflation concerns, it's a more hawkish message, if it is growth concerns, it is more dovish," said Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist with RBS Greenwich Capital.

However, given the damage to market sentiment on the dollar in the last 72 hours, Ruskin said Bernanke would likely do little to boost the U.S. currency.

"It will be hard for him to say anything that is dollar-positive, and more likely that the market will find dollar-negative aspects of the testimony to seize on," he said in a note to clients.

The dollar has lost 1 percent against a basket of major currencies <.DXY> since a weekend meeting of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations shone a spotlight on the large U.S. trade deficit and called for more appreciation in China's currency.

The dollar's weakness was most pronounced against the "commodity currencies," those of countries which primarily export raw materials. Prices for commodities such as gold, oil and copper have spiked in recent months, benefiting them.

The dollar fell to a 14-year low against the Canadian dollar and a near-three month low against the Australian dollar .

Upbeat comments from European central bankers in recent days have raised expectations for more rate hikes in the euro zone, putting more pressure on the dollar. Meanwhile, better-than-expected U.S. economic data have also increased the chances that the Fed will raise rates in both May and June.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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