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Friday October 20, 2006 - 23:58:00 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar mixed as investors position for FOMC decision

FOREX-Dollar mixed as investors position for FOMC decision
Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:16pm ET26

(Recasts, updates prices, adds comment)

By Dena Aubin

NEW YORK, Oct 20 (Reuters) -The dollar rose against the yen on Friday but ended little changed against most major currencies as traders adjusted positions ahead of next week's decision on interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

With no U.S. economic data to drive direction and investors reluctant to add to positions ahead of Wednesday's Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the dollar remained near a two-week low against a basket of currencies and ended the week in the red after two straight weeks of gains.

"It does seem that at the end of this week the long dollar positions are growing stale and the market is more willing to sell the dollar on bad news," said Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist with Bank of New York.

"I think the market wants to go into the weekend square and if there is any dollar-buying activity, it's going to probably have to wait until after the FOMC," he said.

The Federal Open Market Committee is expected to leave interest rates steady at 5.25 percent when it concludes its two-day meeting on Wednesday, although investors will pore over its accompanying statement for clues on future rate policy.

In late afternoon New York trading, the euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.2617 , recovering a little ground after dipping as low as $1.2597 earlier in the session.

The dollar was up 0.5 percent on the day against the yen at 118.71 yen , though the U.S. currency was still off a 10-month high of 119.88 yen reached last Friday.

The dollar index <.DXY> was last trading at 86.28, little changed on the day, but down around 1 percent on the week.

Reduced expectations that the Fed would cut interest rates had nudged the dollar higher earlier this month, but that rally ran its course this week as the dollar failed to break key technical levels against the euro and yen.

The yen lost ground across the board on Friday, especially against sterling and Canada dollars , as traders squared up short positions ahead of the weekend. A short position is a bet a currency will fall.

LOOKING AT THE FED

With the end of the week approaching, investors are looking to next week's Fed meeting for hints on where U.S. interest rates might go.

Though no rate change is expected at the Oct. 24-25 meeting, investors are keen to see what the statement issued after the meeting has to say about inflation risks.

Barclays Capital currency strategist Adarsh Sinha said the Fed's statement would probably not change, leaving the stage set for rates to remain on hold.

Sterling remained near a two-week high against the dollar after stronger-than-expected British growth data for the third quarter that bolstered expectations for British interest rates to be raised to 5 percent in November. Sterling last traded at $1.8840, up about 0.3 percent.

Against the euro, sterling was within sight of a 15-month high .

The Swedish crown rose to its highest in almost a month against the dollar.

"There are rumors that China is planning to diversify reserves out of the dollar into the Swedish crown and Norwegian crown," ABN AMRO said in a research note.

The Norwegian crown was at a nearly two-week high. (With additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez and Nick Olivari in New York and Veronica Brown in London)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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