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Wednesday August 16, 2006 - 10:39:19 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar steady as U.S. CPI eyed for Fed clues

FOREX-Dollar steady as U.S. CPI eyed for Fed clues
Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:14am ET253

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - The dollar was hemmed into narrow ranges on Wednesday as investors awaited U.S. consumer price data that could help clarify what the Federal Reserve's next move might be after leaving interest rates on hold this month.

Surprisingly weak core producer price figures pushed the dollar sharply lower on Tuesday as the data suggested the Fed may not need to boost rates further to combat inflation.

The consumer price index for July, due at 1230 GMT, may offer a clearer picture on the outlook and the wisdom of the Fed's decision to hold rates at 5.25 percent.

The core CPI is forecast to have climbed 0.3 percent from a month earlier, matching June's rise.

"After the big surprise yesterday in the core PPI numbers, I think it's fair to day that the market will not be surprised if the CPI should be soft as well," said Niels Christensen, senior currency strategist at Societe Generale.

By 0959 GMT, the euro was flat at $1.2787 after climbing 0.5 percent in the previous session. The dollar was also steady at 116.10 yen after falling half a percent a day earlier.

Redemptions of coupon payments in U.S. Treasuries were helping to support the yen, Asia-based participants said, as Japanese investors repatriated their profits into the currency from dollars.

. The single European currency was also broadly flat at 148.45 yen , within sight of the record high of 148.61 yen touched on Tuesday according to Reuters data.

The yen has repeatedly plumbed new lows against the euro amid signs that the Bank of Japan is in no hurry to raise rates again after making the first rise in six years last month, while the European Central Bank is expected to keep tightening credit.

Minutes from the BOJ's July 13-14 policy meeting released on Wednesday showed that some board members said the central bank should avoid suggesting it would be quick to raise rates.


Sterling was one of the biggest movers among the majors, falling to a 1-1/2 week low against the euro at 67.71 pence and easing versus the dollar .

Minutes from the Bank of England's latest policy meeting showed six out of seven policymakers backed this month's surprise rate hike to 4.75 percent.

But the tone of the statement suggested the BoE was in no hurry to follow up the move with further tightening, with the bank even saying the hike could be reversed if necessary.

For markets, this outweighed news of faster than expected average earnings growth in the three months to June.

"Some of the text about a smaller move now means less need for larger moves later on has sparked a rally in interest rate futures and that has been weighing on the pound," said Steven Pearson, chief currency strategist at HBOS Treasury Services.

In the United States, the future outlook for rates also hangs in the balance, with investors scrutinising data for clues on whether the Federal Reserve's on-hold decision this month marked a pause or an end to its 2-year-old tightening campaign.

The dollar fell sharply on Tuesday on news that the core U.S. producer price index slipped 0.3 percent in July, declining unexpectedly for the first time since October.

Adding to the currency's woes, a separate survey from the New York Federal Reserve showed manufacturing activity in August slowed to its weakest since June 2005.

Federal funds futures on Tuesday implied the market was seeing a 36 percent chance that the Federal Reserve Board would raise rates again at its next meeting on Sept. 20, down from a 42 percent chance just before the key data landed.


Falling expectations for U.S. rate hikes have also contributed to reduced risk aversion in the markets. A ceasefire in the Middle East also helped to boost risk appetite by reducing geopolitical uncertainty.

The safe-haven Swiss franc fell to a four-month low against the euro at 1.5832 francs .

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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