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Monday May 22, 2006 - 10:47:08 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar hits 2-wk high vs yen, euro reverses losses

FOREX-Dollar hits 2-wk high vs yen, euro reverses losses
Mon May 22, 2006 6:40 AM ET

(Updates prices, adds comments)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - The dollar posted solid gains on Monday, hitting a two-week high against the yen, as volatility in global equity and commodity markets prompted investors to switch from riskier assets into cash.

The greenback advanced more than 1 percent against the yen at one point, with the Japanese currency extending losses made late last week after the Bank of Japan said it was in no hurry to raise rates from near zero.

"It's very much feeding through from commodities and equities and putting high-yield and high-risk currencies under pressure," said Ian Stannard, senior currency strategist at BNP Paribas.

By 1015 GMT the dollar was up 0.7 percent on the day at 112.45 yen after hitting is strongest since May 5 at 112.93 yen.

The euro was flat at $1.2766 with strong chart support at $1.27 helping to stem losses.

The Australian dollar , which often moves in tandem with commodity prices, was the worst performer, sliding 1.5 percent at one point to a one-month low around $0.7467.


The dollar erased early gains against the euro as some euro zone finance officials appeared sanguine about the single currency's recent run higher and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said the central bank was very vigilant on inflation.

The Dutch and Greek finance ministers, at separate events, said they were not concerned about the level of the euro, which hit a one-year high last week near $1.30.

However, French Finance Minister Thierry Breton said discussions between eurozone finance ministers and the European Central Bank were "frank".

Last week he said everything must be done to stop the single currency from rising too much against the dollar, sending the euro lower.

"The main factor is we've now got more two way risk as far as euro/dollar is concerned. The market had thought the path of least resistance was dollar weakness...but the comments from Breton, last week in particular, have restored two way risk," Bank of America currency strategist Kamal Sharma said.

The dollar extended a broad rebound started last week after a month-long fall that sent the currency to an eight-month low against the yen and a year-low versus the euro.

It had been under pressure from expectations that the Federal Reserve's two-year monetary tightening campaign was nearing a pause, talk of central bank diversification away from U.S. assets and renewed focus on massive U.S. trade and budget deficits after the G7 meeting of rich nations in April.

Traders said the U.S. currency's recovery could ebb once the unwinding of dollar-funded positions in commodities and higher-yielding currencies came to an end.


Growing inflationary pressures from rising oil prices have triggered speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve could raise rates again after tightening credit at 16 straight monetary policy meetings.

As such, the market will pay close attention to a speech by Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher later in the day.

"The tone of Fed speak has been consistent with a further rise in U.S. rates next month. That is another factor keeping the dollar supported," BNP Paribas' Stannard said.

The Fed, the BOJ and the European Central Bank are all due to hold monetary policy meetings in June.

Of the three, the ECB is most likely to boost rates next month, while expectations are growing that the Fed will boost rates again after a hike to 5 percent earlier this month.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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