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Friday May 5, 2006 - 21:43:14 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar slides to fresh lows as US job growth flags

FOREX-Dollar slides to fresh lows as US job growth flags
Fri May 5, 2006 4:48 PM ET

(Updates prices)

By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK, May 5 (Reuters) - The dollar slipped on Friday after below-consensus U.S. job growth in April eased expectations the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates beyond the 5 percent currently priced into financial markets.

The dollar fell to a one-year low against the euro, sterling and a basket of major currencies, while remarks by a senior U.S. Treasury official expressing displeasure at verbal intervention helped push it down to a seven-month low against the yen.

The main focus was a Labor Department report showing 138,000 jobs were added to U.S. nonfarm payrolls in April, below expectations for an increase of 200,000. Job creation in the previous two months was also revised down. For details, see [ID:nN05325679].

Annual wages rose at the fastest pace in nearly five years, but this did little to change the view that the Fed will raise U.S. rates by the forecast quarter percentage point to 5 percent on May 10 and then pause.

"People are looking for demons and they look at data like we had today and say the economy can only get worse from here," said Joe Francomano, vice president of foreign exchange at Erste Bank in New York. "I would not be surprised to see the dollar trade with a heavy tone in the next two weeks or so."

Any slowdown in the U.S. economy reduces the need for the Fed to raise interest rates. Steadily rising rates were one of the main factors behind the dollar's gains last year.

The euro was last up at $1.2731, up 0.3 percent on the day, but off the session peak of $1.2765, its highest in a year.

Meanwhile sterling rose to a fresh one-year peak at $1.8623 and was last up 0.4 percent at $1.8590. The dollar fell to a one-year low against the Swiss franc touching 1.2217 francs. The dollar was last down 0.2 percent at 1.2257 francs.

The dollar index <.DXY> closed at 85.12, also a one-year low.

LESS SAID THE BETTER

The euro was already well supported after hawkish comments from European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet on Thursday, who signaled a June rate rise was likely.

The dollar was down 1 percent at 112.46 yen , having fallen to a seven-month low of 112.26 earlier.

The yen was lifted by comments from U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs Tim Adams, who told reporters in India on Thursday that the "appropriate stance" on currency market intervention is simply not to intervene, verbally or otherwise. [nN05249382].

"There is no question that had some effect on dollar/yen," said Hugh Walsh, vice president of foreign exchange with Fortis Bank in New York.

Japanese markets were mostly closed this week for the Golden Week holiday, leaving the yen to lag somewhat.

But with the Treasury's semi-annual currency report to Congress due next week, coupled with speculation over the stance of the U.S. Treasury on the dollar's value, the yen managed to get enough of a boost to carry it to seven-month highs against the greenback.

The yen is often used as a proxy for future yuan trading patterns, and has benefited from international pressure on China to allow its currency to strengthen against the dollar and offset part of its large trade surplus.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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