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Wednesday October 25, 2006 - 10:40:16 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-German Ifo boosts euro but upside capped by Fed

FOREX-German Ifo boosts euro but upside capped by Fed
Wed Oct 25, 2006 6:22am ET26

(Updates prices, adds fresh quotes, changes byline)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The euro firmed against the dollar on Wednesday after an index of German business morale beat expectations, but moves were clipped ahead of the Federal Reserve's rate decision and policy statement later in the day.

The Fed is seen all but guaranteed to keep rates at 5.25 percent for the third consecutive policy-setting meeting on Wednesday but market participants will comb through the post-meeting statement for clues on its monetary policy outlook.

Further Fed highlighting of inflationary risks would leave the door open to potentially dollar-boosting rate hikes.

Germany's Ifo business sentiment index for October came in at 105.3, beating the consensus forecast and boosting the euro some 20 ticks to session highs. The expectations component of the index were also stronger than expected.

"The Ifo continues to defy expectations... I guess its building the case for further hikes early next year and that's supported the euro short term," RBC senior currency strategist Adam Cole said.

Overall, however, Cole said the Fed decision remained the most dominant theme in the market, effectively capping post-Ifo moves.

By 1009 GMT, the euro was up 0.1 percent on the day at $1.2573 . The dollar edged down 0.2 percent against the yen to 119.13 yen . Continued...

A senior trader at a European investment bank in Tokyo said the dollar's slip against the yen was prompted by selling by a Japanese automaker in early Tokyo trade.

The Australian dollar climbed to $0.7619 , its highest in seven weeks, after the central bank measure of inflation bolstered expectations for a rise in interest rates to 6.25 percent as early as next month.

The data also helped the Aussie scale a 10-month high of 90.81 yen .

EYES ON FED

A run of solid U.S. economic data this month has laid to rest speculation that the Fed could lower rates in the near term, while Fed officials have said the inflation outlook remains unclear and price risks remain.

"With the Fed likely to maintain its somewhat hawkish message in the statement following its meeting conclusion today, markets are likely to be cautious about rebuilding easing expectations," UBS analysts said in a note to clients.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. existing home sales at 1400 GMT are forecast to show a slight drop to 6.23 million in September, from 6.3 million in August.

Meanwhile, investors are looking for a quarter point euro zone rate rise by the end of the year, to 3.5 percent.

European Central Bank Governing Council member Axel Weber was quoted on Wednesday in a German newspaper as saying inflation was likely to pose a risk next year and the ECB needed to ask itself whether stimulative policy was needed.

Frenh finance minister Thierry Breton said he hoped for a pause in European Central Bank interest rates increases next year, the International Herald Tribune reported earlier on Wednesday.

The newspaper also quoted him as saying the euro was "absolutely fully valued" against the dollar, but currency markets failed to move on the comments.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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