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Friday September 1, 2006 - 23:17:41 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar slips in week with most US data in line

FOREX-Dollar slips in week with most US data in line
Fri Sep 1, 2006 2:49pm ET

(Recasts, adds comment, updates prices, changes byline)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The dollar ended the week on a soft note on Friday, slipping against the euro and yen after a slew of U.S. economic data did little to change the outlook for no further rises in U.S. interest rates through the year.

The dollar made a fleeting move higher after a report showing August payrolls growth was slightly above expectations, but soon gave up those gains as a wave of short-covering ahead of the long holiday weekend petered out.

The jobs report was one of many economic indicators this week that landed not too far from market forecasts, giving investors little choice but to latch on to the Federal Reserve's prevailing view that slowing economic growth will moderate inflation pressures down the road.

"People were stung by the slightly stronger number and you had knee-jerk dollar-buying and Treasury selling. But with time to reflect, markets have decided that the number doesn't change the outlook for the Fed or the economy," said Richard Franulovich, currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp in New York.

By late afternoon, the euro was up about 0.2 percent from Thursday against the dollar at $1.2830 after falling as low as $1.2755 following the employment report. For the week, the euro rose a modest 0.6 percent.

The dollar was down 0.2 percent on the day at 117.15 yen . It slipped 0.1 percent in the week. U.S. financial markets will be closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

The U.S. economy generated 128,000 jobs in August, barely above median expectations of 120,000. For details, see ID:nN31389454.

The Federal Reserve policy-making body kept its official interest rate at 5.25 percent last month after 17 consecutive rate increases over a two-year period. A continuation of that pause would erode the dollar's yield advantage, especially as the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan move toward a more restrictive monetary policy.


Only one of 21 bond market makers that deal directly with the Fed predicted the Fed would raise rates this month, according to a Reuters poll. [ID:nNYJ000157].

The dollar is seen as vulnerable to selling pressure with its main source of support -- a yield advantage over many major currencies -- on the wane.

"With a Fed now highly likely to again pause at the Sept. 20 meeting, at a time when we should hear a bombardment of concerns about global imbalances at the IMF meeting (Sept. 19/20), the prudent position is to still sell dollars," David Mozina, head of foreign exchange research in New York, wrote in a note to clients.

Earlier in the session, the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing gauge was just below expectations at 54.5 in August, while pending U.S. home sales tumbled in July to three-year lows. [ID:nWEN4893] and [ID:nWBT005888].

Sterling was nearly unchanged from Thursday at $1.9053 but was up nearly 1 percent in the week.

The New Zealand dollar was off 0.2 percent at $0.6540 but had its largest weekly increase since May 2004, up more than 3 percent.

The kiwi, as it is called in market parlance, is one of the highest-yielding major currencies and has benefited all summer from a resumption of the carry trade, in which investors borrow in low-yielding currencies such as the yen to buy higher-yielding ones.

"The New Zealand dollar has been the main benefactor of the carry theme," said BNP Paribas analysts in a research note. "New Zealand dollar rate expectations have shifted higher as a November rate hike has become more likely." (Additional reporting by Steven C. Johnson)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved


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