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Tuesday October 31, 2006 - 21:50:08 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar falls to one-month low after U.S. data

FOREX-Dollar falls to one-month low after U.S. data
Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:42pm ET145

(Updates prices)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The dollar fell to a one-month low against major currencies on Tuesday, after weak U.S. economic data reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates any time soon.

U.S. consumer confidence slipped and business activity in the Midwest slowed in October, but a rise in employment costs at the fastest rate in more than two years in the third quarter suggested inflation will remain a concern.

"The U.S. dollar has been hit by the weaker-than-expected consumer confidence and Chicago PMI data," said Marc Chandler, head of global currency strategy with Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

The dollar index <.DXY>, a measure of how the U.S. currency fares against a basket of six of the most liquid currencies, fell 0.3 percent from Monday to 85.32, the lowest since late September.

For the month, the dollar index has tumbled 0.8 percent, the largest monthly decline since May.

The euro rose 0.4 percent on the day to $1.2783 before retracing slightly to $1.2756. The dollar fell 0.7 percent against the yen to about 116.63 yen and then pared losses to 116.95 yen.

For the month, the dollar is down around 1.0 percent against the yen, ending four months of gains against the Japanese currency as data pointed to slowing U.S. growth.

But despite the slide lower in the dollar, market participants are quick to point out that the greenback remains in trading ranges against many major currencies.

"With so much in the way of big numbers this week, I doubt the market will build on these dollar losses aggressively, even if the modest negative dollar tone looks increasingly entrenched," said Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist with RBS Greenwich Capital.

"Ultimately, I think we will probably need a negative October non-farm payrolls number, to seriously threaten the upside of euro/dollar's wider $1.25-$1.2950 broad range any time soon," he said in a note.

The U.S. Labor Department is due to publish its October employment report on Friday.


The dollar on Tuesday fell across the board after the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago's October business barometer fell to the lowest level since August 2005. Separately, U.S. consumer confidence also slipped slightly in October. For details, see [ID:nN31163324]

The rise in the employment component of the Chicago PMI report suggested a risk that the payrolls number exceeds forecasts, limiting some of the damage to the dollar.

"The employment picked up, that kind of bodes well for Friday's (payrolls) figure;" said Tim Mazanec, senior currency strategist, Investors Bank & Trust in Boston.

Central banks in Norway and the euro zone will hold policy meetings on Wednesday and Thursday this week, with the market expecting the European Central Bank to raise interest rates one more time this year, narrowing interest rates differentials with the U.S.

Overnight in its twice-yearly outlook on the economy and prices, the Bank of Japan reiterated it would gradually adjust rates based on economic and price conditions, a message that was echoed by BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui.

The BOJ kept overnight rates at 0.25 percent as widely expected. [ID:nT199029]

The biggest movers on the day were the Australian dollar and the New Zealand dollar , both of which rose 0.6 percent against the U.S. dollar.

The Australian dollar hit its highest since May, thanks to solid month-end demand from portfolio managers and speculators looking to capitalize on the country's relatively high interest rates among major economies, dealers said.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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