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Wednesday June 14, 2006 - 10:24:32 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar falls from recent 7-wk highs before US CPI

FOREX-Dollar falls from recent 7-wk highs before US CPI
Wed Jun 14, 2006 5:58am ET165

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

By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - The dollar slipped from recent seven-week highs against the euro and the yen on Wednesday as investors adjusted positions ahead of key U.S. inflation data.

Growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this month and possibly beyond, as well as a diminished appetite for risk, have boosted the U.S. currency this week.

Investors are awaiting U.S. May consumer price index data at 1230 GMT, for clues on how much higher the Federal Reserve will lift short-term rates after 16 straight increases to 5 percent.

The headline index is seen rising 0.4 percent on the month after a rise of 0.6 percent in April, while excluding food and energy items, the core index is seen up 0.2 percent.

"A higher than expected core inflation reading will see the dollar resuming its recent rally and raise the likelihood of a June rate hike," said Carsten Fritsch, currency strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt

"But the upside for the dollar might be limited as we have already seen a sharp move higher. Recent talk by Fed officials has confirmed a rate hike in June but 5.25 percent is likely to be a peak."

By 0930 GMT, the dollar was down a third of a percent at $1.2587 per euro , within 3/4 cent of seven-week highs struck the previous session.

Against the yen it was down 0.4 percent at 114.90 yen , having hit a 7-week high around 115.44 on Tuesday.


High-yielding currencies remained under pressure as the rout in commodities continued. The Australian dollar, which tends to track moves in gold prices, tested two-month lows and the New Zealand dollar matched Tuesday's four-week low .

A flight this week from commodities, stocks and emerging markets on worries about global growth has boosted the appeal of the dollar.

Copper fell for the fifth consecutive session before recovering and gold hit 2-1/2 month lows below $550 on Wednesday, but the Nikkei stock index ended up 0.6 percent, after suffering its biggest one-day fall since May 2004 in the previous session.

The Nikkei has plunged as much as 20 percent from a six-year high hit in April.

European shares were in the red again on Wednesday, while U.S. stock index futures were mixed.

"The bigger moves upon a higher-than-expected core CPI will obviously be in risky assets, including equities and emerging markets," Barclays Capital said in a note to clients.

"The Swiss franc and sterling are well positioned to weather continuing risk aversion, while the Australian dollar will be sensitive to the downside in this environment."


Top Fed officials including Chairman Ben Bernanke have made clear their concerns about inflation risks in the past week, bolstering expectations for overnight rates to rise at the Fed's next policy meeting on June 28-29.

In Japan, the recent sharp fall in the Nikkei and the possibility of worsening business sentiment has caused some in the market to question their forecasts for when the Bank of Japan will raise interest rates from near zero.

Many in the market expect the central bank to lift rates by 0.25 percentage point in the third quarter, possibly as early as July, in what would be the first rate increase in six years.

Markets are expecting further euro zone rate hikes after the European Central Bank raised rates by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent last week, but investors have scaled back their expectations for the pace of tightening after comments by ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet following the meeting.

Trichet speaks at 1700 GMT on Wednesday. Fed officials Susan Schmidt Bies, Richard Fisher and Cathy Minehan are also due to speak later on Wednesday.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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