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Thursday September 28, 2006 - 09:05:40 GMT
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FOREX-Euro hits 1-wk high vs yen on Weber, MOF's Omi

FOREX-Euro hits 1-wk high vs yen on Weber, MOF's Omi
Thu Sep 28, 2006 4:06am ET168

(Updates prices, adds quotes, changes dateline, byline)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The euro hit one-week highs versus the yen on Thursday, after an ECB policymaker said more rate rises were needed and as the new Japanese finance minister brushed off concerns about yen weakness.

Koji Omi said on Wednesday he saw no need to comment or act on movements in the euro/yen rate at present, which investors saw as a green light to push the pair back towards the record high levels beyond 150 yen seen at the end of August.

At the same time, expectations of two more euro zone rate hikes this year were further vindicated by a speech from European Central Bank Governing Council member Axel Weber, published on Wednesday.

Weber said that falling oil prices do not give the all-clear on inflation risks in the 12-nation bloc and further rate hikes from the current 3 percent are still needed.

The fall in the oil price -- which has shed around 20 percent since early August -- is expected to take this month's euro zone inflation below the ECB's 2 percent target ceiling for the first time since January 2005. The data is due on Friday.

"Weber was pretty hawkish, talking on price stability ... This means that we have to expect a rate hike at the next meeting and that supports the euro," said Antje Praefcke, currency strategist, Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "Euro/yen is also pushing higher after Omi's remarks... which the markets took as (an excuse) to push euro/yen higher."

By 0750 GMT, the euro was up a quarter of a percent at 149.57 yen , near an earlier one-week high of 149.76. It was also 0.15 percent higher versus the dollar at $1.2717 and hit a one-week high against sterling at 67.63 pence .

The dollar was up 0.1 percent at 117.60 yen .

FED RATE CLUES

Thursday's events include final U.S. second quarter GDP data at 1230 GMT -- expected to be confirmed at an annualised 2.9 percent -- and a speech by ECB Executive Board member Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo at 1500 GMT in London.

Investors are looking to U.S. data to gauge whether the Federal Reserve's next move will be to cut interest rates. So far releases have been mixed with a stronger-than-forecast consumer confidence reading for September on Tuesday and an unexpected fall in durable goods orders in August on Wednesday.

Friday sees the release of core Personal Consumption Expenditure for August -- the Fed's favoured measure of inflation.

The central bank kept rates unchanged at 5.25 percent last week for the second month in a row, after ending a two-year rate-tightening campaign in June.

The dollar showed little reaction to comments by Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, who said the economy was on solid ground, inflation was still a worry, and that he had wanted another rate hike last week to keep price rises at bay.

Lacker was the sole dissenter in the central bank's decision last week to hold rates steady.

JAPAN CPI DUE

In Japan, the focus has been on the new government of the freshly-appointed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Omi's comments on euro/yen were seen as reducing the chance of any Japanese intervention to counteract yen weakness.

"This was seen as a step back from the comments of the previous finance minister Sadakazu Tanigaki following the G7 meeting that moves in the euro/yen had been "a bit rough"," BNP Paribas said in a note to clients, but added that "the threat of any real action in euro/yen was always rather hollow anyway".

Tokyo traders were also anticipating data on core consumer prices and industrial production for August due on Friday, which will offer a prelude to the Bank of Japan's tankan survey of business sentiment on Monday.

Forecasts are for nationwide core CPI to rise 0.3 percent in August after a 0.2 percent climb in July.

Dealers said that a soft reading in core prices and the tankan could further confirm market expectations that rates may remain at 0.25 percent through the end of the calendar year, which could ignite selling pressure on the yen in the near term.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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