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Friday May 19, 2006 - 23:52:19 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar gains from commodities fall, rising bonds

FOREX-Dollar gains from commodities fall, rising bonds
Fri May 19, 2006 5:04 PM ET

(Updates prices)

By Amanda Cooper

NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - The dollar recovered on Friday from losses sustained during the week as risk-averse investors moved capital out of commodities into safe-haven assets such as U.S. Treasuries.

The yen was under pressure all day against the greenback after the Bank of Japan suggested interest rates would not rise from their current near-zero levels any time soon.

The dollar also got a lift from a rally in long-dated U.S. Treasuries, while commodities such as gold and oil came under pressure, suggesting investors may be wary of taking on too much risk.

Traders in all these markets cut their positions, which in some cases were reaching pretty extreme levels. In currencies, this has been reflected in recent weeks in large short dollar positions, or bets against the greenback.

Position unwinds on Friday therefore benefited the dollar.

"You're getting the commodities sell-off ... and the (emerging markets) risk revulsion that's going on - it's happening in all sorts of different places," said Lara Rhame, senior currency strategist at Credit Suisse.

"This is about risk reduction, position management across the board," she said.

The euro pared losses earlier when European Central Bank Governing Council member Klaus Liebscher said the bank was concerned about the big upside risks to inflation within the euro area, fueling market expectations for a rate hike next month. See [nL19778343] for details.

Liebscher's comments put a floor under the euro. When his headlines came out, the euro was at $1.27, but in late afternoon trading in New York, the euro zone single currency was at $1.2775, still down 0.7 percent on the day, while sterling was down 0.8 percent at $1.8791.

A host of other policymakers were also on the tapes Friday, including U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow. He repeated his oft-stated views that China is moving too slow on forex reform and that a strong dollar is in the interests of the United States, but that currency rates should be set in open markets.

Against the Swiss franc, the dollar was up almost 1 percent at 1.2158 francs , while the dollar index <.DXY> saw its first weekly gain in almost two months.

With expectations waning for an outright rate hike by the Bank of Japan, the dollar hit a 10-day high of 112.11 yen earlier in the session, before easing back to 111.70 yen, but still up 0.8 percent.

Pressure on the yen began after BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui indicated that the central bank would not rush to raise Japan's near-zero interest rates.

Dealers scrambled to buy back dollars as the weekend approached after weeks of almost uninterrupted dollar losses.

"The dollar/yen's rise may been partly due to the BoJ comments, but also from a technical standpoint ... the short-term objective for the dollar has been met and we're seeing some profit-taking ahead of the weekend," said Joe Francomano, vice president of foreign exchange at Erste Bank in New York.

Analysts expect the yen to remain under pressure in the short-term driven by the flattened U.S. yield curve. Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were at 5.06 percent, while the yield on two-year notes was 4.97 percent.

The flatter curve reduces the incentive of Japanese investors to hedge currency exposure, according to a BNP Paribas research note. (Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss)
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq and all other quotes delayed by at least 15 minutes.
Reuters does not endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

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