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Tuesday May 30, 2006 - 10:39:53 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar on defensive after talk of Snow's replacement

FOREX-Dollar on defensive after talk of Snow's replacement
Tue May 30, 2006 6:25 AM ET

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, May 30 (Reuters) - The dollar slid across the board on Tuesday, extending earlier losses after a British newspaper reported that Don Evans, a possible successor to U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, was likely to favour a weaker dollar.

The Times said in its online edition that Evans, a former U.S. commerce secretary, may fit the mould of past Treasury secretaries who have favoured a weaker dollar, given his political background.

The newspaper said that in the past 30 years "those with an industrial or political background ... have been quite happy, indeed eager, to see the dollar decline" in order to help American exports, and that Evans would fit in to that category.

Republican sources said last week that Snow will probably step down in June, and U.S. publications such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have recently reported that Evans is a leading contender to succeed Snow.

Analysts said the dollar's sharp move on the report highlighted the increased volatility that has been seen in the markets over the past couple of weeks.

"Everyone is talking about the Times and Snow and uncertainty surrounding Treasury FX policy. Clearly it is generating a lot of noise and this noise is negative for the dollar," Chris Turner, head of FX strategy at ING, said.

"Were there to be a change I'd imagine that the first statement from a new U.S. Treasury Secretary would be a re-affirmation of a strong dollar policy, but again a re-affirmation that currency rates are best set in the market," he added.

By 1007 GMT, the euro was up almost one percent against the dollar at $1.2873 . It was edging towards a one-year peak near $1.2970 hit in the middle of May after the Group of Seven called for more appreciation in Asian currencies to help fix global imbalances.

The dollar shed more than one percent against the safe haven Swiss franc to 1.2102 francs , and was down half a percent at 111.68 yen .

WEAKER DOLLAR?

Evans spent last weekend with U.S. President George W. Bush, his long-time friend, fuelling talk that he could be the favourite to succeed Snow.

Other people seen as possible contenders for Snow's job include current Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. ambassador to India David Mulford -- both of whom, analysts say, could also welcome a weaker dollar.

Traders said the dollar was also dragged lower after Japanese Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano said it was natural for the market to decide the dollar/yen rate, but that sharp movements in exchange rates were undesirable.

EURO ZONE RATE EXPECTATIONS HARDEN

Euro zone money supply growth accelerated in April to an above forecast 8.8 percent, official data showed, cementing analysts' expectations of a European Central Bank rate rise on June 8.

In a further indication that the ECB was poised to tighten monetary policy, Governing Council member Klaus Liebscher was quoted as saying that there was a broad spectrum of risks to price stability and strong vigilance was essential.

"ECB members continue to stress the importance of monetary data, with ECB President (Jean-Claude) Trichet devoting much time to it in his last press conference following the May ECB meeting," Calyon said in a note to clients.

"Given the debate between a 25 or a 50 basis points move at the June ECB meeting, this data could prove pivotal in determining market expectations," the bank said.

U.S. May consumer confidence numbers will be released at 1400 GMT.

In Japan, the yen came under some pressure after Japanese industrial output data came in slightly below expectations.

Production rose 1.5 percent in April from a month earlier, compared with a median market forecast of a 1.8 percent rise.

While the output figures were not particularly strong, on the whole they supported expectations that the Bank of Japan will end its zero interest rate policy in the coming months, analysts said.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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