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FOREX-Dollar firm before PCE, Paulson; euro steadies

FOREX-Dollar firm before PCE, Paulson; euro steadies
Tue Aug 1, 2006 6:20am ET166

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline) By David Milliken

LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The dollar edged up from a three-week low against major currencies on Tuesday as investors grew hesitant ahead of a closely-watched U.S. inflation gauge and a speech by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The euro struggled to make headway after currency markets largely shrugged off a euro zone manufacturing survey which showed growth in the sector slowed in July, although the underlying tone was positive ahead of an expected European Central Bank interest rate hike this week.

"Everything seems to be garnering a measured response at the moment," said Steve Barrow, currency strategist at Bear Stearns.

With markets still uncertain if the Federal Reserve would raise rates at its meeting on Aug. 8, core Personal Consumption Expenditure price data -- a key inflation measure -- due at 1230 GMT would get extra attention, he said.

"I think the market's becoming more convinced about a pause next week. If the data support that view, then the dollar probably won't move. But if it's higher than (2.3 percent) that could give the dollar a lift," he said.

By 1000 GMT, the euro was down 0.15 percent at $1.2743 after hitting a three-week high of $1.2783 in the previous session.

The dollar was steady at 114.65 yen having hit a three-week low of 114.17 on Monday. The euro was also steady at 146.26 yen

EURO ZONE VS US

The euro zone Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 57.4 in July from 57.7 in the previous month, while both input and output price indices in the survey rose.

"The price component was still high and there are continued price pressures ... We think the ECB will raise rates to 3.5 percent by the year-end," said Mitul Kotecha, head of global foreign exchange research at Calyon.

The euro zone unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in June.

The ECB is expected to raise rates by 25 basis points to 3 percent later this week.

In contrast, in the United States, last week's soft growth data diminished expectations the Fed would raise interest rates to 5.5 percent next week, weighing on the dollar. The market is pricing in a roughly 30 percent chance of tightening.

Investors are keen to hear what Paulson has to say about China and the yuan when he speaks to cable network CNBC and before the Columbia Business School later in the session.

"In his confirmation testimony he didn't say the things Congress wanted him to say. I think they want him to bludgeon China in the same way Snow did, but I think Paulson has more of an idea of the problems China has, and might take a more cerebral approach," Barrow said.

Two prominent U.S. senators stepped up pressure on Beijing last week to allow the yuan to appreciate faster or possibly face steep U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

Speculation is rising China is tolerating more currency strength to cool the economy's red-hot pace of growth, with the yuan hitting 7.9650 per dollar on Monday, the highest level since Beijing revalued its currency in July 2005.

The yen is often traded as a proxy for the yuan.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved

 

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