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Wednesday October 4, 2006 - 09:51:26 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar edges higher before Bernanke; yen vulnerable

FOREX-Dollar edges higher before Bernanke; yen vulnerable
Wed Oct 4, 2006 4:34am ET135

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

By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The dollar edged higher across the board on Wednesday ahead of speeches by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and other officials which would provide clues whether the next move in U.S. interest rates would be a cut.

The yen hit a one-month low against the euro on Wednesday, coming within short distance of its record low set in August, while it approached a 5-1/2 month trough versus the dollar as tensions intensified over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

A survey showed growth the euro zone services sector slowed in September, but activity and employment remained steady, keeping intact the European Central Bank would raise interest rates on Thursday and probably once more this year.

"Overall services sector readings are still buoyant. Tomorrow it's pretty much a done deal (the ECB) would raise rates and it's pretty much a done deal they would do 25 basis points in December," said Laura Ambroseno, currency strategist at Morgan Stanley.

"The dollar is doing okay today and oil prices are lower which is supportive of the dollar. U.S. growth is slowing down and inflation expectations have come down. Things are pretty much going according to (the U.S. Federal Reserve's) plan."

By 0815 GMT, the dollar stood at $1.2710 per euro , up 0.2 percent on the day.

It was up 0.1 percent at 118.04 yen after hitting 118.20, near Monday's 5-1/2 month peak of 118.39 . The euro hit a one-month high of 150.46, close to the August record high around 150.80, before reversing gains to 150.02 .

Other Fed officials scheduled to speak on Wednesday include Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, New York Fed President Timothy Geithner and Fed Reserve Board Governor Susan Schmidt Bies.

Some analysts say steep declines in commodity prices, including oil which fell to its weakest since mid-February, are supporting the dollar.

"Falling commodity - mainly energy prices - will... facilitate an improvement in the U.S. trade deficit and reduce the flow of dollars into the hands of the more aggressive FX reserve diversifiers," HBOS Treasury Services said in a note to clients.

The Norwegian crown fell to a two-year low of 8.4495 per euro , pressured by oil prices which slid to $58 a barrel.


The yen was on the back foot after Pyongyang said on Tuesday that it would conduct its first nuclear test, prompting South Korea to heighten its security alert and the United States, France and Japan to urge the U.N. Security Council to respond.

"North Korea's nuclear test talk was taken as an incentive to sell the yen as the yen remains under strong selling pressure on views that Japanese interest rates will stay very low," said a Japanese bank trader in Tokyo.

Investor focus was more on the diverging interest rates outlook in the G3 currencies.

The European Central Bank is expected to raise interest rates to 3.25 percent on Thursday and signal more tightening to come, while U.S. rate futures are pricing in for the Fed to start cutting rates from 5.25 percent next year.

The Bank of Japan has pledged it would raise interest rates from the current 0.25 percent at a gradual pace.

The U.S. ISM non-manufacturing survey and the U.S. ADB national employment survey for September are due later, ahead of a closely-watched payrolls report on Friday.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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