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Tuesday October 24, 2006 - 10:43:05 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar inches up but hemmed in ranges ahead of Fed

FOREX-Dollar inches up but hemmed in ranges ahead of Fed
Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:20am ET172

(adds quotes, updates prices, changes byline)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The dollar was confined to narrow ranges on Tuesday, edging up slightly against most major currencies as traders geared up for the Federal Reserve's policy decision and statement on Wednesday.

The Fed's Open Market Committee is widely expected to leave interest rates on hold at 5.25 percent for the third consecutive time but to reiterate concerns on inflationary pressures.

Meanwhile, the yen remained under light selling pressure after Japan's top financial diplomat indicated he wasn't too concerned with the level of the yen, which has sold off heavily in recent months.

Euro and sterling traders were on the look out for speeches by European Central Bank Governing Council member Guy Quaden and the Bank of England's chief economist Charles Bean later in the day.

The market's spotlight, however, stayed on the dollar and the FOMC's two-day meeting which gets under way on Tuesday.

"With a dearth of significant data so far this week it seems the path of least resistance is to continue buying dollars," Bank of America currency strategist Kamal Sharma said.

"We're expecting the FOMC to highlight that there has been some slowdown economic activity. Critical to the interest rate outlook is likely to be the views on inflation - they are likely to remain vigilant on the outlook for core inflation, indicating their williness to move on rates if they have to," he added.

At 0956 GMT the euro was flat on the day at $1.2542 , while sterling was down 0.2 percent at $1.8697 .

The dollar was up 0.1 percent against the yen at 119.55 yen and up 0.2 percent against the Swiss franc at 1.2701 francs .


The dollar has maintained a firm bias so far this week as markets anticipate that the FOMC's statement accompanying its rate decision will place slightly more stress on inflation risks than slowing growth and softness in the housing market.

Mostly upbeat U.S. data in recent weeks has reduced market expectations for a possible Fed rate cut early next year.

But Steven Saywell, senior currency strategist at Citigroup in London, said the market is unlikely to get any surprises from the FOMC and Friday's release of advance third quarter U.S. gross domestic product could be more market-moving.

"I'd maybe go out on a limb and say the market won't get anything from the Fed ... and that the GDP reading on Friday will be more interesting," he said.

In the euro zone, portfolio flows and current account data for August had no market impact. For details see [nFAE001867]. Industrial orders data beat forecasts, trimming the euro's earlier losses against the dollar and helping comfirm the ECB's monetary policy outlook.

The ECB is widely expected to hike rates once more this year to 3.5 percent, although its 2007 path is less certain. The BoE is also expected to raise rates, next month, to 5.0 percent. Bean speaks at 1730 GMT.

Meanwhile, yen traders appear in no rush to buy back the Japanese currency after comments on Tuesday from Hiroshi Watanabe, Japan's top financial diplomat.

Watanabe said he saw no reason for further yen weakness and he had no fears for Japan's economy, which is set to register its longest ever post-war expansion. But he also said the yen's current value isn't weak and added that the value of yen "carry trades" - where investors borrow the low-yielding yen to invest in higher-yielding currencies - has been exaggerated.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserve


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