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Tuesday August 22, 2006 - 10:52:59 GMT
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FOREX-Euro falls as German sentiment index hits 5-yr low

FOREX-Euro falls as German sentiment index hits 5-yr low
Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:11am ET148

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Aug 22 (Reuters) - The euro scaled back from this week's record high against the yen and a two-month peak versus the dollar on Tuesday after a German economic sentiment indicator plunged to a five-year low in August.

The ZEW economic research institute said its economic expectations indicator for Germany, based on a survey of 307 analysts and institutional investors, fell for a seventh successive month to -5.6, the lowest since June 2001, from 15.1 in July.

Analysts said that while the survey highlighted investor concerns, it would not curb the European Central Bank's determination to raise interest rates further from the current 3.00 percent to ward off inflation.

"It would appear that institutional investors are nervous over a number of factors...a number of headwinds are probably affecting sentiment and we've seen that reflected in the index," said Jeremy Stretch, market strategist at Rabobank.

"You could argue that perhaps one of the headwinds that may have hit sentiment is the prospect of further ECB tightening, but the market is fully expecting it to tighten twice more this year -- so the numbers are unlikely to blow the ECB off course," he added. By 0945 GMT the euro was flat on the day at 149.29 yen , having lost more than 20 ticks after the ZEW's release. It hit a record high of 149.75 on Monday.

The euro was down a third of a percent at $1.2854 while the dollar was up 0.3 percent at 116.23 yen .

Earlier data showed French provisional second-quarter growth was up 1.1 percent on the quarter, its highest since the fourth quarter of 2000.

GROWTH COULD SLOW

Robust economic growth figures released last week for the euro zone in the second quarter have helped to boost the euro, which has risen more than 8 percent this year against the dollar.

But a rising euro has a negative effect on growth as it makes euro zone exports more expensive, which may slow the pace of the ECB tightening in the future.

Morgan Stanley estimates each 3 percent rise in the euro trade weighted index has the same effect on growth as a 50 basis points tightening.

Later in the session investors will be looking at the Richmond Federal Reserve's August manufacturing survey, which might add to concerns about a U.S. economic slowdown.

The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates at 5.25 percent in September, having kept them unchanged this month for the first time in its two-year tightening campaign.

Atlanta Fed President Jack Guynn and Chicago Fed President Michael Moskow speak in separate events later, while Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke is due to speak on Friday at a Fed symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

"Barring some unexpectedly hawkish Fed commentary, we think that market attention will increasingly revert to external imbalances now that the Fed tightening cycle appears to have ended. We think central banks will continue to diversify out of the USD," UBS analysts said in a research note.

The yen has been unable to capitalise on expectations for a higher yuan after the Chinese currency on Monday hit its strongest levels since July 2005 revaluation.

Pressuring on the yen are expectations for low interest rates in Japan. The Bank of Japan has said it will take its time hiking rates after lifting them to 0.25 percent last month in its first rise in six years.

Some analysts also said tensions in the Korean Peninsula was also keeping the yen under pressure.

North Korea said on Tuesday it was considering a pre-emptive attack to counter a U.S.-South Korean joint military training drill that Pyongyang sees as a "war action".

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved

 

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