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Thursday April 27, 2006 - 12:43:28 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Yen gyrates after China rate hike, Watanabe comments

FOREX-Yen gyrates after China rate hike, Watanabe comments
Thu Apr 27, 2006 8:36am ET164

(Adds quotes, updates price, adds quotes)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - The yen rose towards a recent 3-month high against the dollar on Thurdsay after China raised interest rates, but later fell sharply after Japan's top financial diplomat warned against a dollar adjustment as a means to correct global imbalances.

Investors were also looking ahead to Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for clues on whether U.S. interest rates are likely to rise further after a widely expected hike to 5 percent in May.

Earlier in the week the dollar slumped to a seven-month low versus the euro and a three-month low against the yen after finance officials from the Group of Seven over the weekend called on China and other Asian countries to let their currencies rise to help fix global imbalances.

On Thursday the yen gained almost 30 ticks against the dollar and euro after China raised interest rates by 27 basis points to 5.85 percent, the first increase since October 2004.

But it erased gains as Hiroshi Watanabe, Japan's vice finance minister for international affairs, said the market was misinterpreting the G7 statement and said it was not calling for an adjustment in the dollar exchange rate.

"Since Watanabe made comments that's when the reversal started and it seems to be breaking higher against the dollar," said Adarsh Sinha, currency strategist at Barclays Capital.

"It's not surprising Watanabe came out as it's not in their interest to see the yen rising sharply," he added.

By 1220 GMT, the dollar was around a quarter of a percent higher versus the euro at $1.2415, moving away from this week's seven-month low around $1.2470.

The dollar was also up around 0.2 percent versus the yen at 114.98. Before Watanabe's comments, it had fallen to 114.23, close to Monday's three-month low of 114.22.

EURO RATE EXPECTATIONS

The euro shrugged off comments from European Central Bank Governing Council member Nicholas Garganas that rate increases should be expected, with investors unwilling to buy the single currency ahead of the speech by Bernanke.

Data showed that business confidence in Italy -- the euro zone's number three economy -- unexpectedly rose to a five-year high in April. This chimes in with upbeat sentiment surveys from German, France and Belgium earlier in the week. "Garganas is talking about things that have been discussed earlier in the week about policy. There is talk in the market that the ECB could perhaps announce a 50 basis point hike in June, given that a May hike has perhaps been ruled out," said Steve Barrow, currency strategist at Bear Stearns.

"But I think Bernanke is maybe still a little bit of a constraint as well on the market," he added.

Most analysts expect Bernanke to repeat that future Fed tightening will depend on the shape of upcoming economic data. However some were doubtful of the dollar's potential to rally even if Bernanke's comments are more upbeat than expected given the market's current dollar-negative mood.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserve

 

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