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Friday June 9, 2006 - 10:32:17 GMT
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FOREX-Euro near 1-month low vs dollar, eyes US trade data

FOREX-Euro near 1-month low vs dollar, eyes US trade data
Fri Jun 9, 2006 6:06am ET171

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes dateline, byline)

By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) - The euro held near a one-month low against the dollar on Friday after sliding the previous day on signs the European Central Bank would be modest in raising interest rates this year.

The ECB raised rates by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent on Thursday, disappointing those who had expected a rise of 50 basis points, and appeared to rule out the possibility of cranking up the pace of future rate increases.

The dollar's gains against the euro also took it to a six-week high versus the yen and a one-month peak against the pound on Thursday, but analysts said U.S. trade data due later in the day could dent the dollar's climb.

"The euro has settled into ranges ahead of U.S. trade data. We had expectations the ECB might send clear signals on rate hikes but they didn't so the market was disappointed," said Adam Cole, senior currency strategist at Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets.

"The market is looking for the next catalyst to sell dollars. The market has pretty much priced in the next (Fed) hike in June so the interest rate story has run its course."

By 0940 GMT, the euro held steady on the day at $1.2664 , near the one-month low of $1.2624 set on Thursday.

The dollar was slightly down at 113.96 yen after hitting a 6-week high of 114.72 yen in the previous day.

The euro fell a quarter percent to 144.13 yen from around 144.50 yen in late U.S. trade. It briefly touched a record high of 145.70 yen Thursday.

The yen was helped by a recovery in Japanese stocks after a sharp sell-off a day earlier and after data showed machinery orders in Japan rose a robust 10.8 percent in April from the previous month.


Analysts say U.S. data at 1230 GMT, which is expected to show the deficit widened in April, could revive worries that a weaker dollar is needed to correct it by making U.S. exports more competitive on international markets.

Global trade imbalances will also be in the spotlight as a two-day meeting of finance ministers from the Group of Eight begins on Friday in St. Petersburg.

The U.S. deficit is forecast to have expanded to $65 billion in April after shrinking to $62 billion the previous month, a seven-month low.

"(An expected widening in deficit) will largely be a function of a rise in the energy import bill and a dip in the volatile aircraft shipments component," HBOS Treasury Services said in a note to clients.

"Excluding these items core trade is likely to be stable. The dollar can probably weather a sub $70 billion deficit, but any worse than this would threaten the emerging trend toward a stronger dollars."


Some analysts said bearish dollar sentiment may start to wane thanks to strong signals from the Federal Reserve this week that it would fight inflation, cementing expectations the bank would lift overnight rates to 5.25 percent this month.

Investors are awaiting Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at 1400 GMT.

Hawkish comments from Bernanke and other Fed officials this week have helped the dollar rebound from a one-year low hit against the euro on Monday and 8-month troughs versus the yen last month.

In contrast, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet stopped short of using the word "vigilance" on Thursday to refer to the central bank's stance on inflation risks.

ECB Governing Council member Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo said on Friday exchange rates are only one factor the bank takes into account in deciding monetary policy.

Earlier ECB Executive Board member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell said high oil prices, not rising interest rates, are to blame for a small downgrade in the bank's growth forecast for 2007.

ECB Governing Council members Axel Weber and Erkki Liikanen are all due to speak later.
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved


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