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Monday June 19, 2006 - 10:32:21 GMT
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FOREX-Yen under broad pressure, hits record low vs euro

FOREX-Yen under broad pressure, hits record low vs euro
Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:03am (Updates price, adds quotes, byline)
By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - The yen hit a record low versus the euro and eight-year troughs against sterling and the Swiss franc on Monday, after reports of a coming missile test by North Korea and uncertainty on the timing of a Japanese rate hike.

Against the dollar, the yen struck an eight-week low, with the U.S. currency supported across the board by expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this month and then perhaps once more later in the summer.

Japan warned Pyongyang of a "harsh" response from Tokyo and Washington if it went ahead with a test of a long-range missile amid reports that a launch was at hand.

U.S. officials said North Korea appeared to have completed fuelling for a test of a long-range ballistic missile that could possibly reach as far as Alaska.

"(North Korea) had a headline effect and the main thing today is geopolitical jitters which brought the dollar some support, in particular against the yen," said Adam Cole, currency strategist at Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets.
"The feeling is that the Bank of Japan will probably raise interest rates in July but it is in the price."

By 0940 GMT, the dollar was up 0.4 percent on the day at 115.63 yen having hit an eight-week high of 115.77 earlier in the session.

The euro rose as high as 145.86 yen , the strongest since the single currency was first launched in 1999. The yen was also under pressure as some in the market questioned whether the Bank of Japan would raise interest rates from virtually zero as soon as July or August. A sharp fall in Japanese equities could prompt it to delay tightening.

Tadao Noda, new member of the BOJ's policy board, said the timing of a rate rise will depend on data and debate within the board.

The euro was down 0.4 percent against the dollar at $1.2587 , unable to capitalise on hawkish comments from European Central Bank policymakers.

ECB Governing Council member Axel Weber said the central bank must act pre-emptively and decisively to preserve price stability.

Another governing council member Erkki Liikanen said euro zone interest rates are still low and the ECB will act as needed in raising them to combat inflation risks.

The dollar was on a firmer footing after Friday data showed a rise in U.S. consumer sentiment as well as a surprisingly big drop in the first quarter U.S. current account deficit.

Signs of building inflationary pressures have convinced investors the Fed will lift rates for a 17th straight time this month to 5.25 percent and may do so again in August, improving the dollar's yield advantage.

Fed officials have sounded warnings of inflation, with Governor Donald Kohn saying on Friday that price expectations have become "a little bit unhinged".

Atlanta Fed President Jack Guynn is due to speak on the economic outlook at 1330 GMT on Monday.

The market is expecting a further rate hike from the Fed and now the big discussion is whether there is more to follow on from that, and that's where we need to watch the Fed speakers very carefully," said Ian Stannard, currency strategist at BNP Paribas.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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