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Friday August 25, 2006 - 10:54:23 GMT
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FOREX-Yen hits record low vs euro, 8-yr low vs sterling

FOREX-Yen hits record low vs euro, 8-yr low vs sterling
Fri Aug 25, 2006 6:21am ET145
(Updates with yen record low vs euro, changes byline)

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The yen fell half a percent to a record low against the euro, a near 8-year low against sterling and a one-month low against the dollar on Friday as weak Japanese data cemented low interest rate expectations in Japan. Japan's core CPI rose 0.2 percent in July from a year earlier, against expectations for a 0.5 percent rise, reinforcing views the Bank of Japan will take time raising rates, after lifting them in July for the first time in 6 years.

The dollar was calm against European currencies as investors awaited a speech by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

He is speaking later on global economic integration at 1400 GMT but may offer indications to whether the Fed would leave interest rates unchanged at 5.25 percent next month in the wake of some disappointing U.S. data.

"There were some big revisions to the CPI data which means all CPI reasoning for a Japanese rate hike is pretty much gone -- there is a downside risk for the yen as a result of that," said Ian Gunner, head of foreign exchange research at Mellon Financial.

"Bernanke is talking on global matters, he may not say much on U.S. monetary policy."

The euro was at 149.60 yen at 0940 GMT, up more than half a percent from the U.S. close but off an earlier record high of 149.80 yen.

The euro has been persistently hitting record highs against the yen in recent weeks, but analysts said a close above 150 yen would accelerate the single currency's gains.

The dollar hit a one-month high of 117.27 yen , up over half a percent on the day.

Sterling hit its highest since October 1998 above 221 yen .

The euro was steady on the day at $1.2766 , having hit a 1-1/2 week low of $1.2747 earlier.

Consumer price data for August from the German states of Hesse, Brandenburg and Bavaria on Friday echoed earlier data from North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wuerttemberg in showing cooling inflation in the euro zone's largest economy.


A new calculation method shaved around 0.5 percentage points off year-on-year changes in data for overall Japanese CPI from January, a government official said, while economists had expected a downward revision of 0.2 to 0.3 percent.

A Reuters poll showed eight out of 20 market players and analysts they surveyed expect the BOJ to raise rates to 0.5 percent by the end of the year from the current 0.25 percent, while two now rule out the possibility of another hike before the end of the fiscal year in March.

"The weaker than expected July numbers and the downward revisions to the back numbers have reduced the market probability that the Bank of Japan will hike rates again," said Kamal Sharma, currency strategist at Bank of America.

"We as a house have pushed back our view of a rate hike from November to December."

The Fed is widely expected to keep rates unchanged at its next meeting in September as signs grow of a U.S. economic slowdown, led by the housing sector.

The European Central Bank, which meets next Thursday, is expected to keep raising rates after bumping them up to 3 percent earlier this month, helping to narrow the euro's rate gap with the dollar and improve its yield advantage over the yen.

(Additional reporting by Catherine Hornby)>

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserv


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