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Wednesday June 21, 2006 - 12:19:47 GMT
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FOREX-Euro on firm footing as Trichet backs rate hike view

FOREX-Euro on firm footing as Trichet backs rate hike view
Wed Jun 21, 2006 7:58am ET16

(Updates prices, adds comment)

By Katie Hunt

LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) - The euro rose against the dollar and yen on Wednesday as comments by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet supported expectations the central bank would keep raising interest rates after a hike earlier this month.

The yen hit a one-week high against the dollar after Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui signalled this week the bank is set to lift rates from near zero for the first time in six years, possibly as soon as July.

Trichet, testifying to the European Parliament, said euro zone economic growth is on a firm footing and interest rates remain low, backing expectations the ECB would raise rates again this year from 2.75 percent.

"There has been a shift in focus away from the United States. People are realising that other countries are raising rates as well and that's making the dollar more vulnerable," said Tony Norfield, head of foreign exchange research at ABN AMRO.

By 1145 GMT, the euro was up 0.35 percent at $1.2630 . It was up 0.4 percent at 145.06 yen , having hit 145.86 yen on Monday, the highest since the single currency's 1999 launch.

The yen rose to a one-week high of 114.38 per dollar before trimming gains to 114.85, steady from the U.S. clsoe.

With little significant U.S. economic data this week the dollar is seen sticking to ranges ahead of next week's meeting of the Federal Reserve.

After hitting one-year lows against the euro and pound, the dollar has rallied this month on signs the Fed will hike rates for the 17th successive time next week and possibly again in August.

However, market participants are also concerned that further rate increases may cool U.S. economic growth.

Elsewhere, the yuan ended stronger than 8.00 yuan per dollar for the first time since its landmark revaluation in July 2005 as the central bank stayed out of the market.

Sterling hit a one-week low against the euro and dipped against the dollar after minutes of the Bank of England's June policy meeting dampened expectations of an August rate hike.


Fukui said on Tuesday that policy decisions should be made early if warranted by economic conditions, stoking expectations for a near-term Japanese rate rise from virtually zero.

The yen, in response, recovered from an all-time low against the euro and an eight-week trough versus the dollar.

"Fukui sounds very hawkish. The market now expects the end of zero rate policy in July. What Fukui said yesterday pushed the market to July and the yen is benefiting," said Antje Praefcke, currency strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said on Wednesday that he wanted the BOJ to act as an independent body and make monetary policy decisions on the view that mild deflation remain in the economy.

The yen had been under pressure partly on worries that a furore over Fukui's private investments would lead to his resignation and delay the first BOJ rate increase.

Fukui agreed to take a 30 percent pay cut for six months, helping to defuse the concerns about his investment in a fund set up by a financier who has been arrested on suspicion of insider trading.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved


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