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Tuesday November 7, 2006 - 11:44:03 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar pressured before U.S. election, Fukui boosts yen

FOREX-Dollar pressured before U.S. election, Fukui boosts yen
Tue Nov 7, 2006 6:37am ET163

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - The dollar faltered against major rivals on Tuesday ahead of U.S. congressional elections, while the yen rose after Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui sounded a more hawkish tone on interest rates.

In the mid-term elections the Democrats may take control of the House of Representatives from President George W. Bush's Republican Party but the outcome in the Senate is seen as finely balanced.

Analysts say Democrat control in the lower house could be negative for the dollar as it may lead to a rise in protectionist policies or to political deadlock which could slow reforms and economic growth.

"There is nervousness over the elections because no-one knows how it will be split between the Democrats and the Republicans and that's weighing on the dollar somewhat -- overseas investors don't like that uncertainty," Jeremy Hodges, head of FX Sales at Lloyds TSB Financial Markets, said.

Others said, however, that any market impact would be limited.

In the euro zone there were some signs that interest rate increases could continue into 2007, with International Monetary Fund chief Rodrigo Rato saying euro area monetary policy needed to become more neutral and European Central Bank Governing Council member Axel Weber voicing alarm on Monday about the inflation outlook.

"The euro has a lot of support...with interest rates where they are at the moment you are probably looking next year at (more) rate hikes and the euro will get support from that," Hodges said.

By 1110 GMT the dollar was down 0.29 percent at $1.2755 per euro , inching towards last week's one-month low of $1.2798. The dollar fell 0.3 percent to 117.86 yen from Monday's one-week high of 118.45 yen. The euro was steady at 150.39 yen , quite close to record highs above 150.70.

YEN BOOST

BOJ Governor Fukui's comments on raising rates pre-emptively to avoid sharp economic swings, coming after he had said he would not rule out an increase before the year-end, helped to stoke expectations of a near-term move.

That had prompted traders to trim their bets against the Japanese currency.

"This supports our long standing forecast for a December rate hike by the BOJ and 25 basis points of tightening each quarter in 2007," RBC Capital Markets analysts said in a note to clients.

Of 39 market players and analysts surveyed by Reuters last month, 26 said the BOJ would boost its policy target for the overnight call money rate to 0.50 percent from 0.25 percent in the January-March quarter, while only six see an increase before the end of this year.

ELECTION JITTERS

The dollar jumped against major currencies late last week after solid jobs data bolstered expectations that U.S. rates would be on hold for a while.

Federal Reserve officials on Monday also warned that they are more inclined to lift rates again than cut them from 5.25 percent. But their comments failed to lead to a dollar rally as investors took profits before the mid-term elections.

All seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats are at stake, along with 36 state governorships.

"The outlook remains one that will likely see the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives and the subsequent risk of political gridlock could hamper prospects for the U.S. economy in general over the next couple of years," David Jones, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

The dollar was also dented after San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen had said late on Monday that some countries with excess savings may invest less money in U.S. assets.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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