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Tuesday October 10, 2006 - 10:36:30 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar hits 2006 high vs yen, focus on US outlook

FOREX-Dollar hits 2006 high vs yen, focus on US outlook
Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:01am ET138

(Recasts, updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The dollar surged to this year's high against a broadly weaker yen on Tuesday and hit a 5-month peak versus the Swiss franc, driven by expectations the U.S. economy might be in better shape than previously thought.

In volatile trading the dollar later trimmed gains after Fan Gang, an adviser to the Chinese central bank, said it is risky for China to hold as many dollars as it has now. He also said a steady dollar decline was inevitable.

Last week's revisions to U.S. non-farm payrolls data and recent upbeat comments from Federal Reserve officials made some investors rethink the possibility the U.S. central bank would cut interest rates next year.

"The dollar managed to strengthen (since payrolls). We will receive lots of important data this week that will give assessment on the Fed's situation," said Johan Javeus, currency strategist at SEB Merchant Banking in Stockholm.

"In any case (a U.S. slowdown) is not a clear-cut signal for selling dollars because it will cause central banks outside the U.S. to stop raising rates."

By 0945 GMT the dollar had risen to a 10-month high of 119.51 before trimming gains to 119.40.

The dollar had risen to a three-month high of $1.2556 per euro and a 5-1/2 month peak of 1.2670 Swiss francs.

The yen, which fell after North Korea said on Monday it had conducted a nuclear test, has been under pressure due to Japan's ultra-low interest rates.

"Even if the BOJ has begun raising interest rates it's a slow process. The yen will remain hampered by low interest rates. Also as Japanese growth improves, this all goes to raise domestic risk appetite. Japanese investors will become more prone to investing abroad," Javeus said.

Traders said Fan's comments had little lasting impact as he as an adviser was unlikely to be representing the official view of the central bank.

Fan also said China has few alternatives to investing its reserves in dollar assets. China has the world's biggest reserves of nearly $1 trillion.


Since the large upward revision to U.S. non-farm payrolls data last week, markets have trimmed expectations the Fed would cut interest rates from the current 5.25 percent next year.

San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen said on Monday risks were tilted toward higher inflation even as growth has slowed.

Dallas Fed's Richard Fisher is due to speak in London from 1350 GMT on "Monetary Policy in the Globalised World".

For more clues on the rate outlook, the market will scrutinise minutes from the September Fed meeting, due on Wednesday, to see if the central bank highlights either inflation risks or slowing growth.

Elsewhere, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet testifies at the European Parliament later.

"A repeat of the relatively hawkish stance evident at the post-rate hike press conference last week is likely," Royal Bank of Canada said in a note to clients.

Bank of Greece said euro zone interest rates are still relatively low and a confirmation of the ECB's inflation outlook would justify further monetary tightening.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserv


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