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Wednesday December 6, 2006 - 12:11:59 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar gains broadly, hawkish BOJ supports yen

FOREX-Dollar gains broadly, hawkish BOJ supports yen
Wed Dec 6, 2006 7:03am ET139

(Changes byline, updates quotes, prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The dollar gained against major currencies on Wednesday, recovering some of last week's sharp losses, although comments from a Bank of Japan policymaker on interest rates lent support to the yen.

The dollar gained ground against the euro, consolidating its modest boost from Tuesday's surprisingly strong U.S. service sector survey, but stayed within sight of recent 20-month lows.

Taken together with a weak manufacturing survey earlier this week, the service sector data did little to alter expectations that the Federal Reserve's next move will be to cut interest rates from 5.25 percent. This contrasts with forecasts of more rate increases in other countries, and so helped to keep the dollar from strengthening too much.

Traders' reluctance to put on big positions before the European Central Bank's interest rate decision on Thursday and key U.S. labour market data on Friday also kept currencies relatively rangebound.

"We've been stuck in a range on euro/dollar for a couple of days. I would suspect we're going to remain in a broad holding pattern on the dollar until the non-farm payrolls on Friday unless we get something far more hawkish than expected from (ECB President) Jean-Claude Trichet on Thursday," Rabobank markets strategist Jeremy Stretch said.

By 1140 GMT, the dollar was up slightly on the day at 114.97 yen , having hit a four-month low just above 114.40 yen the previous day.

The euro was down a third of a percent on the day at $1.3275 , but still within sight of the 20-month high of $1.3370 hit on Monday. Sterling was pressured lower by softer-than-expected UK industrial production data, and was last down almost 0.5 percent on the day at $1.9652 .


BOJ Policy Board member Kiyohiko Nishimura said on Wednesday the central bank could raise interest rates even if its views on monetary policy do not completely match those of financial markets.

Nishimura's remarks followed a speech on Tuesday by fellow board member Atsushi Mizuno, who said strength in all economic indicators was not necessarily a prerequisite for raising rates.

"What it appears that they are trying to do is at least make the market aware of the risks that they could hike again this month," Rabobank's Stretch said.

Japanese rates are expected to rise 25 basis points to 0.5 percent by the end of the first quarter next year.

German industrial orders for October unexpectedly fell in October. But the euro showed only a muted reaction as its downside is limited before Thursday's policy meeting when the ECB is expected to lift rates to 3.5 percent and may signal more increases in 2007.

"Notwithstanding ECB rhetoric suggesting that it is comfortable with the euro's recent rise and anticipates maintaining a hawkish bias into next year, in recent days the market has reduced the probability of hike beyond 3.5 percent to under 50 percent. That seems a bit low to us," wrote John Butler, strategist at Lehman Brothers, in a note to clients.

Investors are also looking to the U.S. ADP employment report for November for clues on Friday's keenly-watched non-farm payrolls report. The ADP gauge is expected to show that 125,000 jobs were created last month, compared with 128,000 in October.

Economists surveyed by Reuters expect a 110,000 increase in November payrolls, although the preliminary derivatives auction points to a lower figure of 82,000.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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