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Friday May 19, 2006 - 10:11:48 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar rallies on BOJ outlook, position-squaring

FOREX-Dollar rallies on BOJ outlook, position-squaring
Fri May 19, 2006 6:08 AM ET

(Updates prices, adds comments, changes byline)

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - The dollar vaulted higher against the yen and European currencies on Friday, as investors fretted about the Japanese interest rate outlook and took profits on recent gains against the U.S. currency.

The yen was down one percent on the day against the dollar after BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui indicated the central bank would not rush to raise Japan's near-zero interest rates.

The dollar was recouping ground after losing as much as 8 percent against the yen and 7 percent against the euro since mid-April on concern U.S. interest rates of 5 percent are close to a peak and the dollar needs to weaken to help fix the huge U.S. current account deficit.

"The dollar's rise today is partly a yen story -- the market was increasingly expecting the BOJ to start raising rates as early as the third quarter, and this is looking less likely," said Tom Vosa, head of market economics at National Australia Bank.

"Also, it's a Friday and traders are looking to see if they are too short of dollars ahead of the weekend."

BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui, speaking after the bank's two-day policy meeting, said the bank's board did not discuss specifics of ending zero interest rates and said the level of economic activity in Japan was rising but the growth rate will slow.

By 0953 GMT, the dollar rose one percent to 112.01 yen , a 10-day high.

The U.S. currency also rose over one percent against the Swiss franc and sterling .

The euro was down 0.83 percent at $1.2753 .

French Finance Minister Thierry Breton said on Friday the euro was trading within acceptable ranges. Breton triggered a euro decline earlier in the week when he said everything must be done to stop the euro from rising too much against the dollar.

The dollar also derived some support on Friday from U.S. Federal Reserve official Jeffrey Lacker, who said on Thursday the U.S. inflation outlook may be beyond "acceptable" and containing inflation had to be a top priority for the central bank.


The yen has been rising in recent weeks partly in anticipation of the BOJ boosting rates, possibly in July, but the BOJ's monetary policy board left rates unchanged as expected and gave no hint on when rates might begin to rise.

"The Bank of Japan sounded a bit of a dovish note," said Lee Ferridge, proprietary trader at Rabobank.

But the yen got a brief boost in Tokyo trade from data showing gross domestic product in Japan grew 0.5 precent in January-March from the previous quarter, due to resilient capital spending and domestic demand, beating market forecasts for a rise of 0.3 percent.

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow reiterated his dissatisfaction on Thursday about the pace of China's efforts to increase the flexibility of the yuan.

Snow also said in his testimony before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee that policymakers in major industrial countries should refrain from commenting on foreign exchange markets.

Too much volatility in foreign exchange markets could hurt economic growth, including in Japan, Japan's top financial diplomat Hiroshi Watanabe said in Switzerland on Friday.

Snow speaks again on Friday, along with Fed officials Michael Moskow and Timothy Geithner.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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