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Thursday July 20, 2006 - 10:19:18 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar steadies after post-Bernanke fall

FOREX-Dollar steadies after post-Bernanke fall
Thu Jul 20, 2006 05:57 AM ET
(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) - The dollar steadied on Thursday, nursing losses made after the Federal Reserve chief said U.S. inflation was likely to ease in coming quarters, reducing expectations the Fed would raise interest rates in August.

Ben Bernanke's remarks on Wednesday erased the dollar's gains made after a higher-than-expected rise in U.S. consumer prices, pulling it down from three-month highs against the yen, euro and Swiss franc.

"We are seeing some consolidation. The market was positioned for a hawkish testimony and price action across markets was to unwind the move since Monday," said Adarsh Sinha, currency strategist at Barclays Capital.

"What matters for the U.S. interest rate expectation is obviously data. If data comes out on the upside we might see another leg of dollar strength."

U.S. interest rate futures were pricing in a roughly 65 percent chance of another quarter-point hike to 5.5 percent on Aug. 8, down from around 90 percent immediately after the CPI data. The Fed raised rates for a 17th straight time last month.

At 0945 GMT the dollar was holding steady at 116.80 yen , off the three-month high of 117.88 struck soon after Wednesday data showed U.S. core consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in June, above the forecast for an increase of 0.2 percent.

The euro was trading at $1.2605 , up 0.1 percent, having hit a three-month low of $1.2456 on Wednesday.

The single currency was at 147.26 yen , in sight of a record high of 147.42 yen hit earlier in the month.

The yen hit a fresh eight-year low against sterling at 215.81 yen (GBPJPY=R: Quote, Profile, Research) , reflecting eagerness by Japanese investors to invest in higher-yielding assets offshore.

RATE ADVANTAGE

Bernanke said on Wednesday that he expected core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, to fall in coming quarters as the economy slows, echoing what the Fed suggested after it last boosted rates: that slowing growth would take the steam out of inflation.

Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig, one of the more aggressive inflation fighters among Fed members, said in separate remarks on Wednesday that inflation will eventually taper off.

He added that there was a chance the Fed could overshoot on rate increases.

Bernanke is speaking again at 1400 GMT, and is expected largely to repeat Wednesday's comments, but there will be a questions and answers session.

With the European Central Bank poised to raise its key rate to 3 percent in August, a pause in Fed rate hikes could hurt the dollar against the euro as the U.S. currency's rate advantage narrows.

The ECB meets later in the day, but is not scheduled to issue a verdict on rates.

Minutes from the Fed's June policy meeting, due at 1800 GMT, could give a clearer sign of where the central bank sees rates in the near term. The Philadelphia Fed's business activity poll for July is due at 1600 GMT.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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