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Tuesday August 8, 2006 - 10:40:00 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar near 2-month low before Fed rate decision

FOREX-Dollar near 2-month low before Fed rate decision
Tue Aug 8, 2006 6:21am ET253

(Updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline) By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - The dollar stagnated near last week's two-month lows against major currencies on Tuesday, with investors focusing on the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting to see if it pauses in its two-year monetary tightening cycle.

The Fed is expected to leave interest rates at 5.25 percent after raising them 17 consecutive times, as evidence of slowing growth builds. Investors will pore over the post-meeting statement to gauge the likelihood of further credit tightening ahead.

"Understandably I think it's correct to assume that a pause will be connected with a relatively hawkish statement that indicates a strong possibility that there's potential for further hikes if inflationary pressures don't begin to subside," BOTM-UFJ currency economist Derek Halpenny said.

"I personally think an awful lot of bad news has been priced into the dollar as there has been talk of a pause for a long time. Certainly the positioning data seems to suggest that the market is very long euros and sterling," he added.

By 1010 GMT the dollar stood at $1.2842 per euro , slightly down on the day, having hit a two-month low of $1.2909 last week.

It was at 115.14 yen , flat on the day. The euro was steady at 147.89 yen . The dollar index was off its two-month low set last week <=USD>.

TIGHTENING CYCLE

The Fed will announce its decision at around 1815 GMT.

Some analysts said it was too early to declare the U.S. monetary tightening cycle over.

"We believe the most likely scenario is the Fed going on hold but retaining a bias for further tightening," JP Morgan said in a note to clients.

"The Fed could keep the clause 'the extent and timing of any additional firming that may be needed' to indicate that while on hold, the 'elevated' readings on core inflation are still worrisome. This would keep the Fed and the market in a data-dependent mode."

Last week the European Central Bank raised rates to 3.0 percent and signalled more tightening was on the way, while the Bank of England surprised with a hike to 4.75 percent.

Sterling has been the biggest winner among major currencies since the BoE move, hitting a 15-month high against the dollar, eight-month peak against the euro and eight-year highs against the yen.

The yen has come under p-ressure as investors expect the Bank of Japan to leave interest rates low this week and for some time after raising them to 0.25 percent last month.

"Everyone agrees the Japanese economy has shown an impressive recovery. But the problem is that we have an incredible carry here," Sonja Marten, currency strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort.

Japanese Economics and Financial Minister Kaoru Yosano said on Tuesday he personally believed Japan has overcome deflation.>

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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