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Monday September 25, 2006 - 10:53:12 GMT
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FOREX-Dlr near 2-week low before US data, Hesse CPI clips euro

FOREX-Dlr near 2-week low before US data, Hesse CPI clips euro
Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:32am ET172

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered near a recent two-week low against the euro and yen on Monday as investors awaited data this week that might fan expectations for the next Federal Reserve move to be interest rate cut.

The dollar came under broad pressure last week after the Philadelphia Fed report showed manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region slumped to its weakest in more than three years.

This week brings U.S. housing data, consumer confidence and the Personal Consumption Expenditure index -- the Fed's favourite measure of inflation. Softer-than-expected readings could reinforce expectations, still slim, that the Fed might cut interest rates as early as December.

"It seems the dollar is grinding lower day by day. To an extent the dollar had been supported by interest rate hikes. Once you kick out the rate support there's not much left for the dollar," said Adam Cole, currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

By 0954 GMT the dollar was flat at $1.2774 , having fallen to a two-week low of $1.2832 on Friday.

However, the euro's initial gains against the dollar were clipped after data showed consumer inflation in the German state of Hesse fell -- taking a little froth off euro zone interest rate expectations.

The euro lost around 0.2 U.S. cents after Hesse consumer inflation came in 0.4 percent lower on the month in September -- easing expectations on how far euro zone rates might rise beyond the current 3.0 percent.

"There is some expectation that the ECB may move beyond 3.5 percent... with these falling oil prices weighing on inflation the market is probably just unwinding some of that rate hike expectation for 2007," said Kamal Sharma, currency strategist at Bank of America.

The dollar was steady at 116.66 yen , recovering from Friday's two-week low of 116.06. The euro was also flat on the day at 149.01 yen , nearly two yen off its record peak above 150 set late in August. Investors are also awaiting Tuesday's closely-watched German IFO business climate survey for September following a rise in the business confidence indicator in Belgium.


The Fed left interest rates on hold last week for the second meeting in a row at 5.25 percent after 17 successive rate hikes. It said while inflation risks remain, they should abate as economic growth slows.

"The problem for the dollar is not only the loss of interest rate support. It is the loss of interest rate support amid a still-widening current account deficit," State Street said in a note to clients.

This week will also feature speeches from key Fed officials.

Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher and New York Fed's Timothy Geithner speak later on Monday, while Fed Governor Susan Schmidt Bies, Kansas City Fed's Thomas Hoenig, Philadelphia's Charles Plosser, St Louis's William Poole are all scheduled to speak later this week.

Also of note this week is the Sept. 30 voting deadline for the Graham-Schumer bill, which if passed would impose a 27.5 percent tariff on Chinese imports if Bejing did not significantly revalue its yuan currency within six months.

UBS analysts said however that a vote was far from certain.

"While even approval by the Senate would leave the legislation far from becoming actual law, a yes vote would be quite negative for the dollar," the bank said.

In Europe, hawkish rhetoric from European Central Bank officials is cementing expectations for an October rate hike.

Elsewhere, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported prime minister-in-waiting Shinzo Abe chose party heavyweight Hidenao Nakagawa as secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), but the news had little impact on the yen.

Traders say investors are focusing more on who would be appointed as finance minister and in other economic-related positions.

Abe, who was elected LDP president last week, is poised to be confirmed as prime minister when parliament convenes on Tuesday.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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