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Wednesday November 8, 2006 - 22:20:08 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar drifts higher as markets await US trade data

FOREX-Dollar drifts higher as markets await US trade data
Wed Nov 8, 2006 5:14pm ET137

(Updates prices, adds quote)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, Nov 8 (Reuters) - The dollar was marginally higher on Wednesday, but still within narrow trading ranges, as markets hesitated to take aggressive bets ahead of Thursday's U.S. trade balance report for September.

Earlier, traders were focused on the outcome of the U.S. midterm elections in which Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives and were moving closer to victory in the Senate.

Overall however, the election outcome had marginal impact on the dollar and traders' attention in the afternoon has shifted to U.S. economic fundamentals.

With elections out of the way, traders awaited the U.S. trade balance data for September, which was expected to show a deficit of about $66 billion, according to a Reuters poll, down from August's record gap of $69 billion.

"It is difficult to see how the dollar can get any sustained support from trade deficits still near-record levels, so the risks remain tilted against the dollar on this report in general," said Brian Dolan, director of FX research at, a division of Gain Capital in Bedminster, New Jersey.

"The theme of 'twin deficits' (both budget and current account) has faded from the market's focus as attention has shifted to monetary policy, but the huge structural negatives could re-assert themselves in the near future as interest rates in the U.S. appear to be on hold for the next several months," he added.

In late afternoon trading, the euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.2758 , off a six-week peak of $1.2819 hit Tuesday in a bout of pre-election dollar selling. Traders said $1.2750 on the downside was proving to be a major pivot for the single euro zone currency.

The dollar rose 0.1 percent against the yen to 117.80 yen and was up slightly against the Swiss franc at 1.2510 francs .

The dollar earlier received a boost following tough talk on inflation from Chicago Federal Reserve President Michael Moskow on Wednesday and news U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had resigned.

Moskow reiterated his view that more U.S. rate hikes might be needed to combat inflation, lifting the dollar.

Rumsfeld's resignation coupled with a nationwide victory for the Democrats suggested U.S. defense spending could be up for review, a scenario that could foster fiscal discipline and support the dollar.

"I'm apolitical but (the dollar moved) because he's been unpopular for some time," said Lara Rhame, senior currency strategist at Credit Suisse in New York. "Obviously defense spending is a crutch that the Republicans have had to bear, sort of offsetting their traditional low spending platform."

Markets have also started to focus again on interest rates.

"Now, I think we get back to paying attention to what central banks are doing with their reserves and where monetary policy is going worldwide," said Firas Askari, managing director and head of foreign exchange trading at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

He added that both add up to a resumption of dollar weakness in the months ahead.

The Bank of Japan and European Central Bank are expected to raise interest rates again soon, while speculation is growing that the next move from the Federal Reserve could be a rate cut in early 2007, which would trim the dollar's yield advantage.

(Additional reporting by Steven C. Johnson and Amanda Cooper)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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