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Tuesday September 26, 2006 - 10:04:31 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Euro reverses gains as focus shifts to 2007 outlook

FOREX-Euro reverses gains as focus shifts to 2007 outlook
Tue Sep 26, 2006 5:50am ET254

(Updates price, adds quotes changes byline)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The euro eased against the dollar on Tuesday, reversing earlier gains, as investors focused on the weak expectations component of a key German business confidence survey and squared positions ahead of U.S. data.

The dollar consolidated ahead of a slew of U.S. data and speeches from Federal Reserve officials this week which should give clues on whether the next move in U.S. interest rates will be a cut.

U.S. consumer confidence data is due on Tuesday, while the Personal Consumption Expenditure index, the Fed's favourite measure of inflation, is due later in the week.

In the euro zone, expectations are for two more rate hikes this year and the focus is on any forward-looking indicators for clues on the likelihood of further tightening into 2007.

The headline business climate index of the German Ifo survey eased less than expected to 104.9 in September from 105.0 in the previous month, sending the euro briefly higher.

But the single currency reversed its gains as investors looked more deeply into the report and in particular at the bigger-than-forecast fall in the expectations gauge to 98.9 from a downwardly revised 101.4.

"There was a bit of relief (at the headline number), but then the market read the details of the report and came to the conclusion that the near-term outlook is OK, but we are looking further ahead in terms of whether the ECB is likely to hike rates into 2007," said Kamal Sharma, currency strategist at Bank of America.

"The details do suggest that there is still some cause for concern about the outlook for euro zone economic growth heading into 2007," he added.

By 0940 GMT the euro was down a quarter of a percent on the day at $1.2717 , after briefly spiking up to $1.2758 in the immediate Ifo aftermath.

The euro shrugged off hawkish comments from European Central Bank Governing Council member Erkki Liikanen who said that short-term interest rates remain low in the euro zone and still favour economic growth.

The euro shed a third of a percent to 148.11 yen , around two-week lows.

The dollar was steady on the day at 116.46 yen . The high-yielding New Zealand dollar hit a fresh seven-month high of $0.6721 , before reversing gains to stand down 0.4 percent on the day.

CUT POSSIBILITY

U.S. consumer confidence, due at 1400 GMT, is expected to pick up to 102.3 in September from 99.6, boosted by lower petrol prices.

Short-term rate futures are pricing an around 26 percent chance the Fed will cut interest rates in December from the current 5.25 percent.

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

For more insight into the Fed's thinking, investors are awaiting Board Governor Susan Schmidt Bies who speaks later.

Kansas City Fed's Thomas Hoenig, Philadelphia's Charles Plosser and St Louis's William Poole are scheduled to speak later in the week.

In Japan, Shinzo Abe, an advocate of tighter ties with Washington and a bigger say for Japan in world affairs, was elected prime minister by parliament on Tuesday.

Abe appointed Koji Omi to be Japan's new finance minister. Omi, 73, a former bureaucrat, was head of the then Economic Planning Agency in 1997-1998.

Omi said Japan's deflation, which plagued the economy for almost a decade, is basically over and the policy of the Bank of Japan has been appropriate.

"The market has not really reacted ... I guess the conclusion is that no one expects any big change in the policy outlook and the new Prime Minister is expected to continue the reform process of the previous Prime Minister," said Niels Christensen, senior currency strategist at Societe Generale in Paris.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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