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Friday June 9, 2006 - 20:26:38 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar caps strong week near 1-month highs

FOREX-Dollar caps strong week near 1-month highs
Fri Jun 9, 2006 4:09pm ET171
(Updates prices, adds quote)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, June 9 (Reuters) - The dollar exited New York trade on Friday having posted its best weekly gain against a basket of major currencies in more than a year as expectations grew for another U.S. interest rate hike later this month.

The U.S. currency shot to fresh one-month highs against the euro and sterling after government reports showed that the U.S. trade deficit grew by less than expected in April, and import prices in May advanced by more than double Wall Street forecasts.

Friday's trade and import price data added to a string of comments from Federal Reserve officials this week that have suggested the central bank may keep pushing interest rates higher to combat inflation, even as the pace of U.S. economic growth slows. For details see [nN09456829]

"It's been a very good week for the dollar, and it may yet do better, at least until the Fed outlook is clearer," said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

The dollar gave up most of its gains later in the session, and by late afternoon was little changed to slightly weaker against its main rivals.

But on the week, the dollar index <.DXY>, a measure of the greenback's value against the currencies of six major trading partners, was up more than 2 percent, its best weekly gain since March last year.

Many market participants expected the dollar to extend its gains next week.

"We've seen a bit of dollar demand come back after the euro's drop below $1.27, but given the positive data and Fed speak we've seen I wouldn't be surprised to see euro/dollar drop a bit lower again," said John McCarthy, head of foreign exchange trading at ING Capital Markets.

Late afternoon in New York, the euro was down 0.08 percent on the day at $1.2640 , after hitting a fresh one-month low of $1.2595 on electronic broking system EBS, almost four cents below a one-year high hit earlier in the week.

The euro rebounded a little from those lows as strong bids began to roll in around $1.2600, traders said, although no fundamental reason was seen behind this move.

The dollar was trading down 0.18 percent at 113.94 yen , well off its session high of 114.35 yen and below a 6-week high of 114.72 yen touched the previous day.

Sterling was down 0.18 percent at $1.8408 after slipping as low as $1.8365 after the trade data, which showed that the U.S. deficit came in at $63.4 billion in April, below expectations for a reading of $65 billion.

The U.S. dollar fell sharply against its Canadian counterpart, however, after data showed that Canada's economy added a whopping 96,700 jobs in May -- more than six times the number forecast -- and the jobless rate fell to a 31-year low.

The U.S. currency slipped to C$1.1055 from C$1.1198 before the Canadian jobs data were released.

Next week traders will be waiting for a barrage of U.S. economic data, including consumer prices and retail sales.

"Obviously, the market is very sensitive to any price data, and PPI and CPI will be crucial," said Clyde Wardle, currency strategist at HSBC in New York.

Any uptick in the inflation data would likely strengthen market expectations that the Fed will raise rates again this month and possibly beyond, extending its run of 16 straight rate rises since June 2004.

(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper)


© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved

 

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