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Thursday November 30, 2006 - 22:20:43 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar falls amid fears of US economic slowdown

FOREX-Dollar falls amid fears of US economic slowdown
Thu Nov 30, 2006 4:32pm ET138

(Recasts; updates prices)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) - The dollar slid to a 14-year low against the British pound on Thursday, extending its broad slide amid concerns about a slowdown in the U.S. economy and the possibility of an interest rate cut.

The U.S. currency also weakened to a fresh 20-month low against the euro after the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago business barometer showed activity in the Midwest contracted in November for the first time in three and a half years. For details, see [ID:nNYJ000176]

The report "is just going to point toward further dollar weakness," said Tim Mazanec, senior currency strategist at Investors Bank & Trust in Boston. "There's going to be talk of recession and any time you get that sort of negative sentiment going on, it's definitely not going to be dollar-beneficial."

In late afternoon trading, sterling traded at $1.9667, up 1 percent.

Sterling traded as high as $1.97 , the highest since September 1992 when Britain was forced to abandon the European Exchange Rate Mechanism -- the precursor to the common currency.

Meanwhile, the euro was up 0.7 percent at $1.3247, after touching a session high of $1.3275, its highest since March 2005.

The specter of stagnating or falling rates in the United States, compared with rising rates in Britain and the euro zone, has hurt the dollar in the past weeks, analysts and investors said.

The European Central Bank is expected to raise rates to 3.5 percent in December, closing the gap on the Federal Reserve's 5.25 percent target rate.

"In the end, it's all about rates," said David Durrant, a senior currency strategist at Bank Julius Baer in New York. "Higher rates of return in Europe will push the dollar lower."

The dollar was last this low against the pound in September 1992, when Britain was forced to abandon the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, the precursor to the euro. Technical analysts have their eyes firmly on the pound making the psychological $2 level, last seen when the UK left the ERM.

Earlier data reports failed to alter investor expectations that the Fed will keep interest rates on hold.

U.S. core consumer prices kept rising in October and new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly shot higher last week, according to government reports on Thursday that implied the economy faces continuing pressure to keep growing without spurring inflation. [ID:nN30232789]

French Finance Minister Thierry Breton on Thursday repeated the need for vigilance on the euro's recent rapid rise against the dollar, but that failed to slow the euro's advance.

Against the Japanese yen, the dollar fell 0.6 percent to 115.71 yen.

The lone bright spot for the dollar was against the Canadian currency. The greenback rose 0.3 percent against the loonie to C$1.1413 after data showed Canada's economy grew at a weaker-than-expected pace, increasing chances the Bank of Canada's next move may be an interest rate cut.

The market focus now shifts to the release of a manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management on Friday. The index is expected to rise to 51.5 in November from 51.2 in October when the data are released at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT). (Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper in New York)

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved


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