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Wednesday June 14, 2006 - 21:22:41 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar softer as markets unwind positions

FOREX-Dollar softer as markets unwind positions
(Updates prices, adds comment, changes byline)
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, June 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar retreated on Wednesday after U.S. May inflation data reinforced expectations for a June interest rate by the Federal Reserve, but failed provide further reasons for dollar strength.
Market talk of central bank buying of euros shortly after the U.S. inflation report spooked short-term investors into taking profits on the dollar's seven-day rally against the euro, traders said.

"The markets had already gotten pretty long dollars after the inflation data and there was some position-squaring after that and we've seen the dollar sell-off," said Ken Landon, global currency strategist at JP Morgan Chase in New York.

By late afternoon, the euro was at $1.2591, up 0.4 percent. On Tuesday, the euro had plumbed seven-week lows at $1.2528.

Against the yen, the dollar was at 115.05 yen, down 0.2 percent.

Landon also said market speculation on Wednesday that China could allow its yuan currency to appreciate further against the dollar before the G8 summit in July also spurred some modest selling of the U.S. currency.

The "core" U.S. Consumer Price Index, which excludes food and energy prices, rose a greater-than-expected 0.3 percent and the annual rate edged up to 2.4 percent, exceeding the upper threshold of what some Fed officials consider acceptable

"The price action following the CPI numbers reaffirms that it is a very volatile environment currently, one in which there remains a medium-term trend, but holding positions in that medium term trend is extremely precarious," said Michael Jansen, currency strategist at National Australia Bank in New York.
Futures markets have fully priced in a quarter percentage point rate rise for federal funds on June 29, the 17th such increase in two years, and fed funds futures reflect a 50 percent chance the Fed will raise rates again in August.
Expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise rates this month and possibly again at the following meeting, as well as a diminished appetite for risk in emerging markets, have boosted the U.S. currency this week.

Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher and Fed Board Governor Susan Bies echoed the U.S. central bank's concern about inflation on Wednesday, saying in separate speeches that inflation is running at levels that cause discomfort. That enabled the dollar trim some of its losses late in the day.

"The issue now is after June," said Greg Anderson, senior foreign exchange strategist with ABN-AMRO Bank in Chicago. "To be fair, the Fed doesn't know and we don't know. It will depend on the data."

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

The dollar fell 0.6 percent against the Swiss franc on Wednesday to 1.2316 francs , while sterling firmed 0.4 percent to $1.8421 .
Currency markets will now turn their focus to the monthly U.S. Treasury capital flows data due on Thursday to see if foreigners are still willing to finance the U.S. current account deficit. Economists are forecasting net U.S. inflows of $67.5 billion for April.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved

 

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