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Wednesday July 26, 2006 - 23:39:57 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar falls as Beige Book reinforces slowdown view

FOREX-Dollar falls as Beige Book reinforces slowdown view
Wed Jul 26, 2006 4:55pm ET146

(Updates prices, adds comment)

By David McMahon

NEW YORK, July 26 (Reuters) - The dollar extended its losses on Wednesday, hitting session lows across the board after a Federal Reserve survey reinforced a view that the U.S. economy is slowing and that interest rates may be set to peak.

The Beige Book said U.S. economic activity grew overall in the period from June to mid-July, but that there were many local reports of slowing. Overall, that helped support a view that the Fed may pause in its interest rate tightening campaign at its policy meeting next month.

Futures markets pared back their expectations of the Federal Reserve raising rates for an 18th straight time next month to a 46 percent chance from 54 percent just before the Beige Book was released.

"The dollar has been under pressure since this morning and the Beige Book sure hasn't diminished the eagerness of people to sell," said Thierry Elias, head currency trader at Natexis Banques Populaires in New York.

By late afternoon in New York, the euro was up 1.1 percent at $1.2710 after momentarily climbing above $1.2715, a technical level that traders said could herald more dollar weakness in the near term.

The euro was on track for its biggest daily gain versus the dollar in three months. The dollar fell 0.8 percent against the yen to 116.20 yen , far below a three-month peak of 117.88 yen hit last week.

The Aussie dollar was the day's biggest gainer, up 1.2 percent at $0.7615 . The currency was boosted by a surprise jump in consumer prices that cemented expectations the Reserve Bank of Australia will raise rates by a quarter-percentage point to 6.00 percent next week.

DOLLAR WOES

Apart from a brief respite in the last two days, the dollar has been under pressure since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress last Wednesday he expected economic growth and inflation to slow.

The Beige Book report appeared to back up Bernanke's view, pointing to softer growth but also suggesting there was little evidence of a pick-up in price pressures.

The Beige Book's description of growth and inflation looked "solidly USD negative" said Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist with RBS Greenwich Capital.

Despite its heavy fall the dollar was still trapped not far from the middle of its range against the euro for the past month. Investors will take a close look at upcoming U.S. data, including durable goods orders and new home sales on Thursday and second-quarter economic growth on Friday, for a better handle on the outlook for the economy.

Some analysts said it was still premature to rule out more interest rate rises, which could support the dollar.

"It's no surprise that growth is slowing," said Marc Chandler, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York. "The question is whether growth is slowing enough to keep inflation from rising," he said, adding that he still expects the Fed to raise rates in August.

Earlier in the global session, the euro was buoyed by a survey that indicated German business sentiment was better than some expected in July, which added to the case for the European Central Bank to raise euro zone rates next week.

The yen also gained some support after Bank of Japan policy board member Miyako Suda warned the market not to assume the Bank of Japan would not raise interest rates again this year, following its first rate hike in six years this month.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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