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Thursday May 4, 2006 - 10:33:40 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar rallies on G7 comments ahead of ECB decision

FOREX-Dollar rallies on G7 comments ahead of ECB decision
Thu May 4, 2006 6:30am ET167

(Updates prices, adds comment, changes byline)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, May 4 (Reuters) - The dollar rose against the yen and other major currencies on Thursday, after Japan's finance minister said the G7 did not point to a dollar decline after the meeting of wealthy nations last month.

The euro slipped against the dollar but held firm against other currencies before a European Central Bank meeting.

The ECB is expected to keep rates on hold at 2.5 percent later on Thursday and the bank's president Jean-Claude Trichet is seen signalling that further interest rates rises are likely.

Some analysts pointed out however that Trichet could also register a note of discontent over the euro's significant rise against the dollar since the G7 meeting last month.

"We have Trichet speaking today, with him maybe expressing a degree of dissatisfaction with the fact that the euro has appreciated by five percent since the low point in April," BOTM-UFJ currency economist Derek Halpenny said.

"The market would be right to worry about that because after the G7, Trichet said its statement was not a green light to buy the euro," he added.

Japan's Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said overnight that financial markets had misunderstood a G7 statement last month that investors had taken as a call for the dollar to weaken.

Tanigaki repeated his comments later, at a meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Hyderabad, India, stressing that excessive focus on currency adjustments as a means to address global imbalances could intensify market speculation.

"Tanigaki's comments are a reminder that the G7 did not intend to signal (dollar) depreciation against all currencies," said David Simmonds, head of FX strategy at Royal Bank of Scotland.

The dollar has lost over two cents against the euro since the G7 called for countries with massive surpluses such as China to allow their currencies to strengthen to mend global economic imbalances.

By 0956 GMT, the euro was down 0.4 percent against the dollar at $1.2588, moving off a one-year high of $1.2690 struck in the wake of the G7 statement. The ECB decision is at 1145 GMT and the bank's news conference at 1230 GMT.

The dollar rose a third of a percent against the yen to 113.92 yen as European traders reacted to Tanigaki's comments. Asian trade was thin with Japan off on holiday. Japanese markets resume trading on Monday.

Sterling hit two-month highs against the euro following strong UK data, before Thursday's Bank of England rate announcement, when the bank is expected to keep rates on hold at 4.5 percent.


Trichet stunned markets last month when he said he did not support expectations of a rate rise as soon as May, but he was more sympathetic to a policy tightening in June.

Trichet has also said that the G7 message was specific on the need for flexibility in emerging market currencies, including China's, but did not call for broad dollar weakness.

"The risk today is that Trichet toes the line that the G7 wasn't calling for a weaker dollar," said Tony Norfield, head of foreign exchange research at ABN AMRO.

The euro showed little reaction to data that showed the euro zone's service sector expanded at its fastest pace in over five years last month and consumer demand picked up.

The dollar has come under pressure in recent weeks on the market view that U.S. interest rates, which stand 4.75 percent, are close to a peak.

A positive surprise from a widely watched U.S. payrolls report on Friday could squeeze short-dollar positions, traders said.


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