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Wednesday October 18, 2006 - 10:23:03 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar steadies ahead of U.S. inflation data

FOREX-Dollar steadies ahead of U.S. inflation data
Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:03am ET140

(Recasts, changes byline)

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON Oct 18 (Reuters) - The dollar steadied against major currencies on Wednesday ahead of U.S. inflation data, a key marker for investors trying to puzzle out whether the Federal Reserve is likely to cut interest rates any time soon.

September CPI data at 1230 GMT is forecast to show a rise in the core consumer price index of 0.2 percent, the same gain as in August. Investors are looking for the next move in U.S. interest rates to be a cut from the current 5.25 percent, after 17 straight rises to June 2006.

"The balance of risks is starting to shift to the downside for the dollar," said Ian Stannard, senior currency strategist at BNP Paribas. "Strong data does not necessarily mean a strong dollar."

The yen rose briefly to a 10-day high versus the dollar and three-week peak against the euro in late Tokyo trade after Business daily Nihon Keizai said the BOJ was concerned about carry trades -- in which investors borrow yen cheaply to invest in higher-yielding assets overseas.

Playing down the newspaper report, a BOJ spokesman told Reuters that the central bank was not specifically beefing up its monitoring of such carry trades.

Traders said some in the market used the BOJ report as a further excuse to cut long dollar positions ahead of U.S. CPI.

"People are taking a bit of profit ahead of the CPI reading in the U.S. and also perhaps taking profit on some of the carry trades in the crosses after a bit of warning from the BOJ," said Laura Ambroseno, currency strategist at Morgan Stanley.

By 0945 GMT, the dollar was steady against the euro at $1.2534 , within recent ranges, and was up slightly against the yen at 118.72 , off earlier lows of 118.33.

The dollar was down more than a yen from a 10-month high hit late last week on fading expectations of a U.S. rate cut this year.

The euro hit a three-week low at 148.49 yen , before recovering to 148.84, steady from the U.S. close.

EURO RATES

European Central Bank Governing Council members John Hurley and Klaus Liebscher gave a tacit backing to market expectations of a rate rise to 3.5 percent in December from the current 3.25 percent.

But the euro got little support from their comments in separate interviews published on Wednesday, as both stressed that the bank had no fixed view on rates in 2007.

Liebscher and ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet speak in Frankfurt from 1430 GMT.

Sterling rose only slightly after minutes of the Bank of England's October policy meeting showed the two newest members of the Monetary Policy Committee, Timothy Besley and Andrew Sentance, voted for a rate hike from the current 4.75 percent.

Gains were muted, however, as a lower than expected rise in average earnings in the three months to August eased concerns about UK inflation.

YEN FOR RUSSIA

The carry trade report followed news on Monday that Russia's central bank was increasing the yen share of its foreign exchange reserves, highlighting the risk that speculators could rush to cover a massive build-up of short yen positions.

Dealers said the BOJ news was not fresh, with the minutes of its August meeting having quoted some members as saying it should look into the market impact of yen carry trades. BOJ Assistant Governor Akinari Horii also told Reuters last week that the bank was keeping an eye on carry trades.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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