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Thursday November 2, 2006 - 10:54:03 GMT
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FOREX-Euro edges up post-PMI, pre-ECB; yen strengthens

FOREX-Euro edges up post-PMI, pre-ECB; yen strengthens
Thu Nov 2, 2006 5:45am ET25

(Adds euro zone PMI data, MOF's Watanabe, changes byline)

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - The euro rose slightly on Thursday following upbeat data on euro zone manufacturing and ahead of an expected no-change euro zone rate decision, while the yen strengthened on comments from Japan's Ministry of Finance.

The euro hit the day's highs against the dollar, moving closer to one-month highs set in the previous session, after the euro zone Purchasing Managers' Index edged up to 57.0 in October, higher than the 56.7 consensus forecast.

Investors expect the European Central Bank to hold rates at 3.25 percent at 1245 GMT, but to signal a hike in December at the 1330 GMT news conference.

They will also be will be looking for clues from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet on the path for interest rates going into next year.

"The market is very comfortable in its view that the ECB will signal a 25 basis hike in December. The curve-ball is whether Trichet directs the market for 2007," said Kamal Sharma, currency strategist at Bank of America.

The yen firmed half a yen against the dollar and euro after Japan's top financial diplomat, Hiroshi Watanabe, said there was no reason for the Japanese currency to weaken, given that the economy was recovering.

"The market is very sensitive about anything that comes along that affects the weak yen scenario, for the simple reason that the market is very heavily leveraged in short yen positions," said Neil Mellor, currency strategist at Bank of New York.

Carry trades, the practice of borrowing a low-yielding currency to invest in higher-yielding assets, took the yen to record lows against the euro tested last week.

The euro was trading at $1.2762 at 1025 GMT, close to the day's highs of $1.2768 set after the PMI data and in sight of the one-month high just under $1.28 set on Wednesday after soft data on U.S. manufacturing.

Also on Thursday, data showed German unemployment fell by a larger than expected 67,000 in October, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The dollar fell as far as 116.68 yen , down more than a quarter percent on the day and close to five-week lows of 116.55 set on Wednesday.

The euro fell a quarter percent on the day against the yen to 148.86 yen , before recovering to 149.10.

The high-yielding Canadian dollar hit two-month lows against the yen .

Markets are closed for a holiday in Japan on Friday.

The dollar has come under selling pressure after a run of below-forecast U.S. economic data -- including the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index on Tuesday -- which has increased speculation that the next move in U.S. interest rates from the current 5.25 percent will be down rather than up.

The non-farm payrolls report is expected to show 125,000 jobs were added in October, up from 51,000 in September.

Thursday also sees the release of weekly U.S. jobless claims number at 1330 GMT and factory orders for September at 1500 GMT.

"Weekly jobless claims ... could be more interesting ahead of the jobs data tomorrow," said Sharma at Bank of America.

Sharma added that a rise in the ISM employment index and in the private employers' ADP jobs report for October, also released on Wednesday, hinted at a better than forecast payrolls number.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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