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Tuesday October 10, 2006 - 20:51:10 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar hits 10-month high vs yen on US growth outlook

FOREX-Dollar hits 10-month high vs yen on US growth outlook
Tue Oct 10, 2006 4:22pm ET148

(Updates prices, adds comments)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The dollar rose broadly for the sixth consecutive session on Tuesday and hit a 2006 peak against the yen, boosted by the view that the U.S. economy may not be as weak as initially thought.

Rising Treasury yields also provided dollar support. The benchmark 10-year yield hit a three-week high, hinting at growing doubt among investors that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates in the next few months.

"There's a view out there that the U.S. economy isn't as weak as people had anticipated, and that's helped the dollar to rally," said Charmaine Buskas, foreign exchange analyst at Moody's Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Late afternoon, the dollar was hovering just below its 10-month high at 119.78 yen , according to Reuters data, up 0.5 percent on the day and near the psychologically important 120 yen level.

Forex Capital Markets, one of the world's largest FX retail platforms, said its order flow showed speculative positions against the yen outnumbering those in favor of it by seven to one.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, rose 0.5 percent to a near three-month high of 87.01 <.DXY>.

The euro last changed hands at $1.2530 , down 0.5 percent, while the dollar was near a five and a half month peak at 1.2707 Swiss francs , up 0.7 percent on the day.

Upward revisions to U.S. nonfarm payrolls data released on Friday and softer oil prices have cast U.S. growth in a rosier light, which has prompted heavy dollar buying.

Also, upbeat comments on the economy from Fed officials have slimmed the chances of a rate cut from the current 5.25 percent in the coming months, though policy easing in 2007 is still thought to be inevitable.

But with volatility having been so low for months, dealers were not willing to step in front of momentum in the dollar's favor.

"The dollar's gains have come with very little pullback so far, and in technical terms, that means there's ample room for it to climb higher," said Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at The Bank of New York.

Whether that means a break of the key 120 yen level or a move in the euro below $1.25, a trough not plumbed since mid-July, remains to be seen.

Andrew Chaveriat, technical analyst with BNP Paribas in New York, said a euro decline to $1.2455 would make $1.1970 the market's next target. For the yen, the dollar may be on course for a test of December 2005 highs around 121.40 yen.

FED MINUTES ON TAP

Wednesday's release of minutes from the Fed's Sept. 20 policy meeting might do the trick, Woolfolk said, provided the minutes show officials more worried about inflation than slow growth.

Recent remarks from Fed officials have indeed focused on price pressures. On Tuesday, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said he was comfortable with policy for now but would favor raising rates further if necessary to quell inflation. For more, click on [ID:nL10598046].

Other Fed speakers have played down the negative effect of the U.S. housing market slowdown on the broader economy.

Still, Economy.com's Buskas said sustained dollar strength would require a series of strong U.S. data plus more hawkish talk from Fed officials.

Without that, "it doesn't change our view that the Fed will remain on hold through the end of the year but will probably have to deliver a cut in early 2007," she said.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Plumberg in New York.)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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