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Friday July 21, 2006 - 11:00:24 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar hits one-week lows, China rattles yen

FOREX-Dollar hits one-week lows, China rattles yen
Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:46am ET168

(Updates prices, adds China raising bank reserve requirements, changes byline)

By Katie Hunt

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - The dollar hit one-week lows versus the euro and the yen and a 6-week trough against sterling on Friday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting further cooled expectations for a U.S. rate hike next month.

The yen gained as rumours swirled China could announce measures to make its currency more flexible on the first anniversary after Beijing revalued the yuan by 2.1 percent and ditched its dollar peg.

But the Japanese currency briefly trimmed losses as China disappointed those positioned for a such move by announcing that it was raising its bank reserve requirements by 0.5 percentage points in bid to cool its racing economy.

"The yen move higher was kicked off by the revaluation story so we are seeing a bit of a bounce higher now in the dollar on the news that it's the reserve requirements that have changed," said Derek Halpenny, currency economist at BOTM-UFJ.

By 1032 GMT, the dollar was down 0.8 percent at 116.05 yen. After China's announcement, it briefly rose around 30 ticks from around a one-week low of 115.92 yen .

The euro was up 0.4 percent at $1.2678 after hitting a one-week high of $1.2680.

Sterling hit a six-week high against the dollar at $1.8581, also helped by strong growth data for the second quarter.

Earlier, the yuan posted its highest close since the revaluation, at 7.9820 per dollar , but it has still gained only 1.6 percent since the revaluation.

MINUTES HURT DOLLAR

Fed minutes showed central bankers were uncertain at their last meeting in June about future rate steps and wanted to see more economic data before deciding whether more credit tightening was needed.

That came just a day after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that inflation would likely ease in coming quarters as growth slows, raising the prospect of a near-term pause in the central bank's two-year credit tightening campaign.

"A lot of people are going long euro/dollar and Bernanke and the minutes did little to change that view," said Paul Mackel, senior currency strategist at HSBC.

The dollar extended losses in early European trade -- especially against the safe-haven Swiss franc -- after an Israeli general was quoted as saying Israel may expand ground operations in Lebanon and call up "massive" reserves.

"Going into the weekend, people who have been short Swiss are changing positions. You never know what could happen geopolitically and doesn't make sense to hold that risk," said Mackel.

The dollar came off the three-month high of 117.88 yen struck on Wednesday before Bernanke kicked off his testimony and after U.S. June core CPI came in above forecast.


© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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