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Tuesday December 12, 2006 - 11:32:08 GMT
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FOREX-Yen hits lifetime low vs euro, dollar on Fed vigil

FOREX-Yen hits lifetime low vs euro, dollar on Fed vigil
Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:08am ET136

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The yen hit a lifetime low against the euro on Tuesday on receding Japanese interest rate hike expectations, while the dollar kept a weaker bias ahead of a Federal Reserve decision on U.S. rates later.

The euro got a small boost from the German ZEW survey showing an above-consensus improvement in investor sentiment for December.

The Fed is expected to leave rates at 5.25 percent, but investors are focusing on whether its post-meeting statement will keep the stance that economic growth has slowed and inflation pressures will likely moderate over time.

"The euro is higher on the back of a ZEW survey which was exceptionally strong. It's confirming the fact the economic recovery is broad-based, but it's unlikely to take us anywhere new," said Adrian Hughes, currency strategist at Societe Generale.

"As for the Fed, inflation remains sticky. There will be a little change on their inflation outlook."

By 1045 GMT, the euro was at 154.85 yen , steady on the day, having hit a record peak above 155 yen earlier.

Although in uncharted waters, analysts expect the euro could target previous German mark highs above 160 in the new year.

The yen came under pressure after data showing slowing wholesale price growth added to recent weak data which trimmed expectations for the Bank of Japan to raise rates next week.

The yen hit 8-year lows against sterling and the Swiss franc .

The euro was up 0.1 percent on the day at $1.3253 , while the dollar was down 0.1 percent at 116.86 yen .


Growth in Japan's corporate goods price index (CGPI), which tracks trends in wholesale prices of goods, slowed from 2.8 percent in October and a 25-year high of 3.6 percent in September, largely because oil prices have dropped.

"The data continues to show that inflationary pressures in Japan remain subdued and have further unwound expectations that the Bank of Japan will raise interest rates at next week's board meeting," UBS said in a note to clients.

A run of weaker-than-expected Japanese economic data including soft machinery orders and a downward revision to third-quarter growth last week has cast doubt on whether the BOJ will raise rates at next week's meeting.

Money markets, as seen in yen overnight index swaps , are pricing in about a 40 percent chance of a rate increase in December, lower than around 70 percent last week.

Given such speculation, investors are holding their breath for the central bank's quarterly tankan survey of business sentiment due on Friday, as a strong reading could revive anticipation of a rate increase before the end of the year.

"The yen still has a low-yielding status. Until they do raise rates, trying to buy the yen has proved particularly difficult," Hughes said.

The dollar fell on Monday after former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan told a business conference in Tel Aviv he expected the dollar to "continue to drift downwards until there will be a change in the U.S. balance of payments."

With Greenspan training the spotlight back on the trade gap, the market was also keen to digest figures on U.S. trade in October, due at 1330 GMT.

The deficit is expected to narrow slightly to $63.0 billion in October.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


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