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Friday May 26, 2006 - 21:47:20 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar gains vs euro, yen ahead of holiday weekend

FOREX-Dollar gains vs euro, yen ahead of holiday weekend
Fri May 26, 2006 3:08 PM ET

(Recasts; updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK, May 26 (Reuters) - The dollar gained against the euro and yen on Friday with the greenback posting its first back-to-back weekly gains against the euro in three months as investors tidied up positions in lower than usual volume ahead of a holiday long weekend in the United States and Great Britain.

A key U.S. inflation indicator helped the dollar reverse early losses and push the U.S. unit higher. It was the first time the U.S. unit gained for two weeks in a row against the euro since three weeks of gains that ended in mid February. The euro has lost 1.8 percent in the last two weeks but remains up 7.4 percent for the year.

It was also the first time in a month the dollar had gained for two straight weeks against the yen. It has rise 2.9 percent in the last two weeks against the yen reducing the dollar's losses against the Japanese unit to 4.4 percent for the year.

"The positioning has been so dollar-bearish for such a long time, it didn't really change after the dollar made gains last week, so ahead of the weekend in the United States and the UK there is certainly some squaring up," said Tim Mazanec, senior currency strategist with Investors Bank & Trust in Boston.

Late Friday afternoon, the euro had shed 0.6 percent against the dollar at $1.2726 after failing to breach the lower end of the $1.27-$1.29 range that has persisted over the last week.

Against the yen , the dollar was up 0.8 percent at 112.70 yen, off its session peak of 112.72. It was 0.8 percent stronger against the Swiss franc at 1.2269 francs.

Sterling shed nearly a full percent against the dollar, tumbling at one point to a two-week low when British mortgage data came in below expectations. It was fetching $1.8563 in recent trade.

Friday's bid began gathering steam before the University of Michigan said its final reading on May consumer sentiment slipped to 79.1 from 87.4 in April, and that softer reading did little to derail the greenback's gains. [ID:nN26245943].

Still, the dollar slipped off session peaks against the euro and yen on reports that gunshots were heard in the U.S. Capitol complex in Washington, and the Swiss franc briefly popped higher on the news.

But those moves were limited, with police searching a government building without any reports of injuries or arrests, and the story of the day appeared to be one of pre-holiday consolidation.

Trading began to wind down even before London had completely closed for the day and became less active as U.S. traders left to begin the long weekend.

"There's a long weekend ahead, and after the huge moves we've had over the last two weeks I think people are consolidating for the moment," said Meg Browne, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

Earlier Friday, the dollar lost ground when a government report said the core personal consumption expenditures index for April advanced 0.2 percent, in line with economists' expectations, after posting a 0.3 percent rise the prior month. The core reading removes volatile food and energy costs.

Compared with a year earlier, the PCE index edged up by 2.1 percent, just above the threshold of the Federal Reserve's stated comfort zone of 1 percent to 2 percent. [ID:nN25441621].

But even that is "nowhere near an emergency level that would force the Fed to raise rates in June," said Boris Schlossberg, senior currency strategist at Forex Capital Markets in New York.

The Fed has lifted U.S. interest rates, now at 5 percent, 16 straight times since mid-2004 and has tied future increases to incoming economic data. (Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Amanda Cooper)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved


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