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Thursday July 6, 2006 - 10:36:12 GMT
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FOREX - Euro ticks up as ECB seen signalling more hikes

LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) - The euro ticked higher against the dollar on Thursday as attention turned to a European Central Bank meeting that could signal higher interest rates and U.S. jobs data that may yield clues on the outlook for U.S. rates.

ECB policymakers are widely expected to keep rates unchanged at 2.75 percent at 1145 GMT, but investors are keen to scrutinise post-meeting remarks from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet for any suggestion of a quicker pace of tightening.

"People are generally of the belief that (Trichet) is going to sound relatively hawkish and that is giving a bit of support to the euro," said Simon Derrick, head of currency research at Bank of New York.

A recent run of strong data has increased expectations for an ECB rise as soon as August 3.

However, the euro's gains were limited, as investors were unwilling to take extreme positions ahead of a series of key events which could prompt a swing in market sentiment.

"The currency markets are on hold just at present there is a number of risk events coming up over the next week -- the ECB today, the (U.S.) non-farm payrolls tomorrow, ... uncertainty with regards to the Bank of Japan meeting next week and uncertainty with regards to North Korea," said Derrick.

By 0952 GMT, the euro was up 0.12 percent at $1.2733 , off a one-month high of $1.2839 hit on Wednesday. It slid off those peaks after a strong U.S. employment survey sparked speculation that Friday's June non-farm payrolls could surprise on the upside.

The euro traded at 147.16 yen , staying in sight of a record high of 147.39 yen hit on Wednesday, while sterling firmed against the dollar ahead of a Bank of England rate decision at 1100 GMT, with rates seen on hold at 4.5 percent.

The dollar was a touch weaker at 115.56 yen , as safe haven buying on security concerns in Asia subsided a day after the U.S. currency got a boost from a series of missile launches by North Korea.

Pyongyang acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that it had launched missiles and vowed to use force if the international community tried to stop future tests.


The dollar rallied on Wednesday after the monthly ADP National Employment Report showed that U.S. private-sector employers added an estimated 368,000 jobs last month.

The report prompted several U.S. investment banks to raise their forecasts for June's non-farm payrolls and boosted expectations for higher U.S. interest rates.

A Reuters poll carried out after the ADP release showed that 185,000 non-farm jobs were likely added in June, up from the previous forecast for 155,000.

The Federal Reserve followed its 17th straight rate increase last week with a statement saying slower economic growth could help contain inflationary pressures.

That helped to feed speculation the Fed could be ready to pause its two-year rate tightening campaign if upcoming U.S. data points to an economic slowdown.

The Bank of Japan is widely expected to raise interest rates next week for the first time in six years, giving the yen some support, dealers said.

Iceland's central bank hiked its key repo rate by 75 basis points on Thursday, to 13 percent. But the move failed to lift the Icelandic crown, which traded nearly half a percent lower on the day at 96.17 per euro .

"Given that the market is a bit risk averse, it's hard to see the market entering long Icelandic crown positions, despite the high interest rates," said Anders Soderberg, currency strategist at SEB Merchant Banking in Stockholm.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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