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Friday December 8, 2006 - 11:36:37 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar sits tight vs majors ahead of US payrolls

FOREX-Dollar sits tight vs majors ahead of US payrolls
Fri Dec 8, 2006 4:39am ET21

(changes dateline, byline, adds quotes, updates price)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The dollar shuttled in fairly narrow ranges on Friday as investors braced for a key U.S. employment report, that could help decipher what the Federal Reserve's next move might be on interest rates.

The yen had only a muted reaction to revised figures showing that the Japanese economy grew slightly less than expected in July-September from the previous quarter.

Particular attention was being paid to the U.S. non-farm payrolls for November, due at 1330 GMT, after data from ADP Employer Services earlier in the week showed surprising growth in private-sector jobs, pointing to healthy job creation.

Economists polled by Reuters expect a rise of 110,000 in the government report, compared with last month's 92,000.

An above-consensus print could boost the dollar further from steep losses seen last week, indicating a tight labour market and rising wage pressures. But a softer number would point towards cutting U.S. interest rates early next year.

"The ADP, statistically speaking, is one of the best indicators of the payrolls reading and it was a bit better than expected,...but given the general tone of economic data on a more widespread basis you could easily argue that the payrolls come in weaker," BTM UFJ currency economist Derek Halpenny said.

By 0915 GMT, the dollar was up 0.1 percent on the day at 115.31 yen. Sterling was down a quarter percent at $1.9615 , moving further away from 14-year highs set last week above $1.98. The euro was steady at $1.3280 and 153.21 yen .

Traders are betting U.S employers added about 85,800 jobs in November, according to a closely-watched derivatives auction on the data.

On Thursday, the European Central Bank raised interest rates to 3.5 percent in a widely expected move, but ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet sent mixed signals on the outlook for interest rates next year.


The U.S. currency has faced broad pressure due to concern that a lower Fed funds rate would shrink its yield advantage against rival currencies as other central banks raise rates.

Current consensus is tipped in favour of the U.S. central bank cutting rates from the current 5.25 percent when it next moves, while the Bank of Japan is seen raising rates slowly from 0.25 percent.

Figures released overnight showed the Japanese economy grew 0.2 percent on a quarterly basis in July-September, less than a preliminary reading of 0.5 percent growth. Forecasts were for a revised growth reading of 0.3 percent.

"The data will cast more doubt over the ability of the BOJ to hike rates in the short-term. They are keen to press ahead with rate normalisation, but with much of the data looking fragile it will be difficult to act on these instincts," Mellon Bank head of currency research Ian Gunner said in a note to clients.

Japan's core private-sector machinery orders rose 2.8 percent in October from the previous month, government data showed, coming in below economists' forecasts for a rise of 6.2 percent.

Traders said the BOJ's tankan quarterly poll on business sentiment due in a week's time was likely to be the factor that will determine whether the central bank lifts rates at its policy meeting on Dec. 18-19 or holds off until next month.

Despite the downward revision to Japan's GDP and the softer- than-expected machinery orders data, yen overnight index swaps suggest that traders see a better than even chance of the BOJ raising interest rates this month.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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