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Friday September 15, 2006 - 11:03:25 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar rangebound vs yen; U.S. CPI, G7 in focus

FOREX-Dollar rangebound vs yen; U.S. CPI, G7 in focus
Fri Sep 15, 2006 6:28am ET166

(updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - The dollar was hemmed in narrow ranges against the yen on Friday, steering well clear of recent five-month highs against the Japanese currency as investors awaited U.S. inflation data and this weekend's G7 meeting.

The yen got a slight boost as market players cut back on hefty bets against the Japanese currency before the G7 meeting, alert to any fresh comments on weak Asian currencies that might spark a rally.

In April the dollar plunged 2 percent in a single day versus the yen after the G7 issued a statement singling out China, calling for currency appreciation to help fix global imbalances.

Seen as a proxy for the tightly-controlled yuan, the yen tends to benefit if the yuan comes under appreciation pressure. But its interest rate disadvantage against all major currencies is seen weighing.

Earlier on Friday, Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty said China needs to make its currency policy more flexible sooner, while the U.S. must find ways to encourage its citizens to increase their savings.

"There's been so much speculation about what will, or won't, be said that no one wants to put on any fresh risk at this moment in time," UBS currency strategist Adam Myers said.

"All the action has been outside the dollar, euro/swiss has had a big move and euro/yen as well... there won't be a significant kickback on either of these crosses after the G7," he added.

By 1000 GMT, the dollar was flat at 117.63 yen , staying well below the five-month high near 118.15 yen struck earlier in the week.

The euro was down a quarter percent on the day at 149.21 yen , well off the recent record high beyond 150 yen. The single currency also lost 0.25 percent against the dollar at $1.2688 .

The euro was still well within established ranges against the dollar, little moved by final euro zone August inflation figures confirmed at 2.3 percent year-on-year.

Keeping interest rates low can boost economic demand in the short term but probably will result in damaging inflationary pressures, European Central Bank Governing Council member John Hurley said on Friday.

The dollar had pushed higher on Thursday after firm U.S. retail sales data raised doubts about the degree to which growth was slowing.

A strong reading in U.S. August consumer prices, due at 1230 GMT, could fuel expectations the Federal Reserve may need to proceed with more dollar-supportive interest rate rises.

Core CPI, which excludes food and energy costs, is expected to have risen 0.2 percent in August from the previous month.

The Fed held rates steady in August at 5.25 percent for the first time in two years but markets have yet to decide whether the decision marked a pause in the rate cycle or a full-fledged stop. The bank holds a policy meeting next week.

CARRY TRADES

Selling pressure to fund carry trades has undermined the Swiss franc this week, driving the second lowest-yielding among major currencies to 6-1/2-year lows against the euro and a 2-1/2-year trough versus the pound.

The currency fell to 1.5961 to the euro , its lowest since March 2000, and sank to 2.3640 to the pound , the weakest since April 2004. Against the dollar it sank to a two-month low of 1.2555 .

Carry trade is the practice of borrowing at low interest rates to buy higher-yield assets overseas.

Analysts forecast the yen to share the Swiss franc's fate, barring a surprise strongly-worded call from the G7 for Asian currencies to appreciate.

These expectations grew after the Japanese government left its overall assessment of the economy unchanged in a monthly report released on Friday but downgraded its view on private consumption for the first time in 19 months.

While the report skipped mentioning the deflation for the first time in five years, the assessment of exports was cut.

"The Swiss franc is the focus of negative carry. The poor data from Japan this morning indicates that we will probably see the same returning in the case of the yen and the yen to be heading down above 150 per euro," said Frankfurt-based Dresdner Kleinwort currency strategist Michael Klawitter.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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