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Saturday September 23, 2006 - 10:38:32 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar slips vs euro as 2007 U.S. rate cut eyed

FOREX-Dollar slips vs euro as 2007 U.S. rate cut eyed
Fri Sep 22, 2006 4:40pm ET184

(Recasts, adds comment, updates prices)

By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) - The dollar slipped against the euro, and inched up against the yen on Friday, against a backdrop of growing risk aversion in world markets as investors fretted that slowing U.S. economic growth may prompt the Fed to cut interest rates as early as next year.

The greenback rallied against emerging market currencies as investors dumped higher-risk assets amid political uncertainty in Thailand, Hungary, Poland, and Brazil.

But it was the outlook for interest rates that drove the dollar as investors still traded off Thursday's Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank report showing the first negative reading in business activity in September in more than three years, indicating a significant drop in manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region.

"The market is putting a lot of weight into the Philly Fed (data) and the Fed leaving rates unchanged," said Joe Francomano, vice president of FX at Erste Bank in New York. "The market is making a big bet that the Fed is done."

By late afternoon in New York, the euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.2789 against the dollar. Against the yen, the euro was up about 0.3 percent at 148.94 yen .

The dollar was up 0.1 percent against the yen at 116.47 yen .It was off the session low at 116.09, but still endured its largest weekly percentage loss against the Japanese currency in two months.

With data suggesting U.S. economic growth is slowing, financial markets are starting to consider the possibility of Federal Reserve interest rate cuts in 2007.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's business activity survey, which accelerated the dollar's decline this week, came a day after the Fed left interest rates on hold for a second consecutive policy meeting, and did not signal it would tighten monetary policy any time soon.

If the Fed does keep rates steady, it would detract from the dollar's appeal among foreign investors who often sell lower-yielding currencies and buy higher-yielding assets to gain bigger returns on their deposits.

"The movements against the EM (emerging market) currencies is more by default, whereas the weakness against major currencies is a function of the downgraded growth expectations," said Robert Lynch, head of G10 FX strategy for the Americas at HSBC in New York.

"The market is all about pricing risk. The latest data has increased the perceived risk that it could be a hard landing" for the U.S. economy, he said.

In addition to concern that a U.S. economic slowdown could harm global growth, another factor behind heavy selling of emerging market currencies, stocks and bonds was increased political risk.

This week brought a collapse of Poland's coalition government, violence over a political scandal in Hungary, a military coup in Thailand, and another political scandal in Brazil.

Mimicking the sharp drop in some emerging European currencies, Latin American currencies sank. The Brazilian real was down around three-month lows against the dollar, while the Mexican peso hit 2-1/2-month lows on concern that a retrenchment in the U.S. economy could adversely affect Mexican exports.

The dollar fell 0.6 percent against the Swiss franc at 1.2353 francs, while the pound was flat at $1.9006 .

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved


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