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Monday September 18, 2006 - 19:30:13 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar hits five-month high vs yen on G7 relief

FOREX-Dollar hits five-month high vs yen on G7 relief
Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:10pm ET163

(Updates comments, prices)

By Amanda Cooper

NEW YORK, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a five-month peak against the yen on Monday after the weekend's meeting of finance ministers of the Group of Seven rich nations produced no explicit calls for a rise in the value of Asian currencies.

The dollar managed to shrug off data that showed a worsening in U.S. finances, but was still down against the euro, which was supported by comments from euro zone policy officials which helped cement expectations the European Central Bank has plenty of room to raise interest rates.

The euro edged steadily higher over the course of the New York afternoon trading session against both the dollar and the yen as investors gradually turned their sights from the outcome of the G7 toward Wednesday's Federal Reserve policy meeting.

"It (the euro) kind of found support down around the lows where we were on Friday, in the $1.2625-30 area and held down there and caused a few of the shorts to cover a little bit. At the end of the day, there's still not-too-bad European data coming out and we've got a Fed meeting," said Michael Jansen, senior market strategist at National Bank of Australia.

"That's probably going to be a little bit dovish and I don't think people want to be too short the euro going into it because you could actually see the euro getting some good support coming out of the Fed meeting," he said.

The Fed is widely expected to leave U.S. rates at 5.25 percent for a second meeting in a row, which calls into question the dollar's ability to keep rallying especially when the European Central Bank is expected to keep hiking rates.

By mid-afternoon in New York, the dollar was up against the yen by 0.3 percent at 117.99 yen , which earlier hit a five-month low of 118.28.

The euro was up 0.4 percent at $1.2695 , having bounced from an intraday low of $1.2632, and was up 0.6 percent against the yen at 149.80 yen.

The G7 meeting in Singapore did not specifically single out the yen in its communique, which dampened a rally in the Japanese currency sparked by ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, who told reporters the G7 agreed the yen would reflect Japan's economic recovery.

Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said the yen's recent drop to record lows per euro had been a bit "wild."

The muted reaction was in sharp contrast to the last G7 meeting in April, which prompted a sharp fall in the dollar after calls for Asian countries including China to let their currencies rise to help resolve trade imbalances.

And with the G7 now out of the way, investors are showing greater appetite for risk and are eagerly seeking higher-yielding investments, which they finance by selling lower-yielding currencies such as the yen.

The euro's rise on Monday was also triggered in part by fairly hawkish comments from euro zone monetary officials who told Reuters the central bank expects to continue raising interest rates in 2007.

Earlier, Governing Council member Klaus Liebscher said he saw a "rising danger of rising inflation," adding to a string of recent hawkish comments from ECB policymakers.

"It clearly reaffirms that they are hell-bent on raising interest rates in the short-term, which is one of the reasons why euro/yen is unlikely to go any lower soon, said Tobias Thygesen, senior analyst at Danske Markets in Copenhagen.

The dollar managed to overlook a report from the Treasury Department that showed net capital inflows into U.S. assets hit their lowest level since May 2005 in July and did not come even close to covering the record $68 billion trade gap for that month. For more details please see [ID:nN18266116].

The Swedish crown, meanwhile, rallied after the election win by the opposition center-right alliance, which had vowed to cut taxes and trim back the welfare state to boost jobs.

The crown was up 0.2 percent on the day at 9.1997 per euro -- off earlier two-month highs of 9.1550 but well short of the 1 percent rally forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll in case of an alliance win.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Plumberg in New York and Toni Vorobyova in London)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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