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Tuesday May 23, 2006 - 21:00:11 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar gains vs euro, yen, but stays in ranges

FOREX-Dollar gains vs euro, yen, but stays in ranges
Tue May 23, 2006 4:54 PM ET

(Recasts, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK, May 23 (Reuters) - The dollar gained against the euro and yen on Tuesday in technical trading as major currencies failed to break out of ranges ahead of the upcoming U.S. holiday weekend.

Earlier the yen gained against both the dollar and the euro after a ratings agency raised its view of the Japanese economy.

The dollar was firm against other currencies for most of the day, but traders said the yen's strength could renew focus on the prospect of higher interest rates overseas and weak U.S. fundamentals, including a gaping current account deficit.

Both stand to dial up the pressure on the dollar.

"The dollar did a little better toward the end of the day," said Nick Bennenbroek, vice president for foreign exchange research at Brown Brothers Harriman. "But it's more a reflection of quiet markets and the dollar not being inclined to break out of existing trading ranges."

Late in New York, the dollar was up 0.2 percent against the yen at 111.73 yen after the pair ran into solid support around 111.00 in overnight trade. The next key support level lies around 110.80, said Grant Wilson, senior trader at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh.

The euro was down 0.3 percent against the dollar at $1.2830 .

Richard Franulovich, strategist at Westpac Banking Corp in New York, said a broad $1.27-$1.29 range for euro/dollar looks likely over the next few sessions.

The euro was down 0.1 percent against the Japanese unit at 143.37 yen .

Earlier the yen was in demand, starting its rally overnight when ratings agency Standard & Poor upgraded Japan's ratings outlook to positive from stable.

he Japanese currency was also supported by comments from Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui, who was quoted as saying the BOJ will adjust interest rates gradually "so as not to be overly behind the curve."

"The news from Japan simply reinforces the notion that interest rates will soon be headed higher, and that will become a more decisive source of yen support once traders start to price in those higher rates," said Alex Beuzelin, senior market analyst at Ruesch International in Washington, D.C.


Against the Swiss franc, the dollar was up 0.4 percent at 1.2084 francs , possibly a sign that risk-aversion plays that weighed heavily on emerging market currencies and global stock markets in recent session is abating. Sterling was down 0.3 percent against the dollar at $1.8814 .

After Monday's choppy price movement, "this would be a good day for the market -- if it doesn't get too much to sink its teeth into -- to consolidate a bit," Mellon's Wilson said.

Traders do expect liquidity to dry up the closer it gets to the weekend, which may add to volatility, said Brian Taylor, chief foreign exchange dealer with Manufacturers and Traders Bank in Buffalo, New York. U.S. markets are closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

But down the road, higher Japanese and European interest rates and an end to the Fed's tightening cycle will turn the tide against the dollar, Beuzelin said.

A BOJ hike later this year "won't make a huge dent in the yen's rate differential with the dollar, but psychologically and symbolically, it will be a big step," Beuzelin said.

The market got little in the way of clues from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the future path of U.S. interest rates.

During a question-and-answer exchange with senators after testimony about financial literacy, Bernanke largely steered clear of saying anything new on the economy or monetary policy.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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