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Thursday December 21, 2006 - 11:36:13 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar slips before U.S. data, yen off lows

FOREX-Dollar slips before U.S. data, yen off lows
Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:48am ET28

Please note that market coverage will be scaled back next week. Significant market action will be reported as usual.

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The dollar softened against the euro on Thursday ahead of U.S. data on growth and manufacturing that could help the market to assess whether the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates next year.

The yen briefly hit a record low against the euro on expectations the Bank of Japan could skip raising rates to 0.5 percent in January, while euro zone rates are seen rising again in the first quarter from the current 3.5 percent.

Investors awaited the final reading of U.S. third-quarter gross domestic product at 1330 GMT and the Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing survey for December due at 1700 GMT.

"If we get a disappointing figure in the Philly Fed it could weigh on the dollar," said Niels From, currency strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in Frankfurt.

"The euro is benefiting from expectations the European Central Bank is going to raise rates further and people are going long high-yielding currencies versus low-yielders."

The dollar was down 0.3 percent at 118.04 yen at 1030 GMT, off Wednesday's six-week high just above 118.50.

The euro rose 0.15 percent to $1.3193 . It hit a record high of 156.45 yen before slipping to 155.69, down 0.2 percent on the day.

The euro also hit 6-1/2 year highs against the Swiss franc for a fourth day on more bullish expectations for rates in the euro zone than in Switzerland.

Trading was quiet in the last full trading week of the year for European and U.S. markets.

YEN AND CARRY

The yen erased losses after coming under pressure after Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui said earlier this week Japanese consumption and prices had weakened, which market players took as a sign the central bank may hold off raising rates next month.

Analysts say the yen's pullback will prove short-lived.

"We know short yen positions are fairly extended. My impression is that nimble and speculative money is not around today so I would be cautious reading too much into it," said David Simmonds, head of FX strategy at Royal Bank of Scotland.

"There is a little bit of profit-taking and few commercial orders around. The wider risk environment looks still friendly. Carry trades are very much to the fore until the end of the year."

Japanese Vice Finance Minister Hideto Fujii repeated the Group of Seven message that foreign exchange rates should move in a way that reflected each nation's economic fundamentals.

U.S. DATA

Focus in the GDP was on the core personal consumption expenditure (PCE), the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, which is seen rising 2.2 percent, unchanged from the first revision.

The Philly Fed survey is forecast to give a reading of 4.0 in December, from 5.1 in November.

Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker is due to deliver a speech later in the session. Lacker, who was a voting member of the Fed's policy board this year, has opposed the central bank's decision to keep rates at 5.25 percent at the past four meetings.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

 

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