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Wednesday October 11, 2006 - 10:49:29 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar keeps firm bias, investors await Fed minutes

FOREX-Dollar keeps firm bias, investors await Fed minutes

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a 5-1/2 month peak versus the Swiss franc and neared a 2006 high against the yen on Wednesday, as markets awaited minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's September meeting for clues on the interest rate outlook. Investors will also be keen to scan a speech by Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, a noted "hawk" and the sole dissenter in September's decision, to leave rates on hold at 5.25 percent.

Last week's revision to U.S. non-farm payrolls data raised expectations the U.S. economy might be in better shape than previously thought, prompting investors to rethink the possibility the Fed would cut rates next year and helping support the dollar in a yield-driven market.

Westpac currency strategist Geoff Kendrick said, however, that if investors were looking for solidly hwakish rhetoric from the minutes, they might be disappointed.

"The move we've seen (in the dollar), particularly after payrolls, might have gone far enough just now. The market is probably looking for quite solid rhetoric from the minutes but I don't think they are going to get that," Kendrick said.

"The issue is the minutes were from a few weeks ago."

The dollar had risen to 119.77 yen , close to a 10-month high, before coming back to 119.48 by 1010 GMT. Against the euro it was trading steady at $1.2549 having hit a 2-1/2 month high of $1.2516 earlier this week.

The dollar had risen to 1.2722 Swiss francs , its highest level since April.

The euro was steady at 150.01 yen , off its record high near 150.80 set in August.

The yen had ticked briefly towards the lower end of its trading range after North Korea said it would take U.S. pressure to rein in its nuclear weapons programme as a declaration of war, according to its official media.

UPBEAT FED

The dollar has found additional support this week as top Fed officials sound upbeat on the economy and the need to keep inflation at bay.

On Tuesday, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said he was comfortable with the central bank's monetary policy for now but would favour raising rates further if necessary to quell inflation.

"I suspect the Fed wants to send the message that a cut in interest rates is not on the agenda. It's a matter of when rather than whether, but it's a story for the second half of next year," RBC Capital Markets senior currency strategist Adam Cole said. The dollar got a small boost against the yen on security concerns in Asia after Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported that the government was checking whether North Korea had conducted a second nuclear test.

Neither Japan nor the United States could confirm the report. Pyongyang said on Monday it had conducted a nuclear test.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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