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FOREX-Euro steady off one-yr peak vs dlr, US data eyed

FOREX-Euro steady off one-yr peak vs dlr, US data eyed
Fri May 5, 2006 4:31 AM ET

(changes dateline, byline, adds quotes, comments)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - The euro was steady just off a one-year high hit against the dollar on Thursday with investors looking to see if U.S. jobs data later on Friday might stem the U.S. currency's three-week slide.

The euro was boosted on Thursday largely by comments from the European Central Bank (ECB) that reinforced market expectations it would raise interest rates in June from the current 2.5 percent.

Analysts said the euro was expected to run into profit-taking ahead of the weekend, aided possibly by an above consensus reading of the jobs data.

The U.S. non-farm payrolls figures due at 1230 GMT, are expected to show a rise of 200,000 in U.S. employment and a 4.7 percent jobless rate, according to a Reuters poll. An above consensus figure may prompt speculation on further U.S. credit tightening beyond this month.

"Even if we see a somewhat disappointing non-farm payrolls figure, that won't be enough to see euro/dollar head to the $1.28 area," Monica Fan, global head of FX currency strategy at RBC Capital Markets said.

"We're still overall dollar-bearish once the profit-taking is out of the way. The ECB is expected to raise rates in June and there is a prospect that they will raise more aggressively than the Fed, which should keep the euro well bid," she added.

Analysts have been expecting a 25 basis point rise in June, but strong comments from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet have sparked speculation of more aggressive tightening.

Trichet is scheduled to give speeches in Frankfurt at 0830 and 1100 GMT.

The euro was flat against the dollar by 0817 GMT at $1.2688 , having hit a one-year high of $1.2723 on Thursday after Trichet emphasised the central bank's vigilance on inflation.

Against the yen, the dollar was up 0.14 percent at 113.73 yen.

SPOTLIGHT ON FED

Economists expect the Fed to raise rates to five percent when it meets next Wednesday. Markets are more focused on whether the Fed will sound dovish in the statement that accompanies the rate decision.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had signalled in Congressional testimony last week that a pause in its credit tightening campaign was possible, but later told a CNBC reporter the central bank was still aggressive on inflation.

Investors were also waiting to see if the U.S. Treasury's semi-annual report on currency practices of trading partners, due next week, will describe China as a manipulator for keeping its currency undervalued. That would be taken as another signal that the dollar needed to weaken.

"The currency manipulation report is going to pass somewhat uneventfully," Dresdner currency strategist Adrian Foster said, basing his view on Treasury Secretary John Snow's criticism of U.S. politicians advocating protectionist measures.

"Snow wouldn't come out criticising some protectionist forces in America if they were to be given some fuel from this report."


© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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