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Monday January 8, 2007 - 11:31:02 GMT
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FOREX-Yen pushes higher as BOJ eyed; dlr steadies

FOREX-Yen pushes higher as BOJ eyed; dlr steadies
Mon Jan 8, 2007 6:16am ET16

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The yen hit a four-week high against the euro and rose versus the dollar on Monday, gathering momentum from growing expectations that the Bank of Japan could raise interest rates as soon as next week.

The dollar steadied near six-week peaks versus the euro, holding gains made in the wake of surprisingly strong U.S. jobs and manufacturing data, which has led the market to scale back forecasts for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates in the coming months.

In Japan some people now think rates could rise to 0.5 percent at the BOJ's Jan. 17-18 meeting, helping the yen to recover from successive record lows against the euro.

However, the impact of such a move was seen as limited as the currency would still keep its low-yielding status with borrowing costs still some way off those in the euro area or United States.

"Even a rate rise will not really bail the yen out as what's been driving it down recently is not so much the dynamics of where interest rates are going but the outright level of yields," RBC Capital Markets senior currency strategist Adam Cole said.

"Even with rates at 0.5 percent it's still the cheapest currency for funding carry trades in the G10," he added.

By 1054 GMT, the euro was down 0.1 percent at 154.06 yen , having hit a four-week low earlier at 153.67 and almost three percent below record highs above 158 yen struck last week. The dollar was 0.1 percent weaker on the day at 118.43 yen .

The yen rose for a fourth straight session against the Australian dollar and for a third session versus the New Zealand dollar , the highest-yielding currency among industrialised countries.

Speculation about a rise in the yen's interest rate has helped to trigger the unwinding of carry trades, which had boosted the Aussie and kiwi as investors borrowed the low-yielding yen to buy higher yielders.

Trade was thinner than usual, with many dealers in Tokyo away due to a national holiday in Japan.


The single European currency was little changed at $1.3007 , in sight of the six-week low around $1.2980 struck on Friday after the U.S. jobs report.

The Labor Department said the U.S. economy generated 167,000 new jobs in December, well above market expectations for a rise of 100,000.

All 21 primary dealers in a poll taken after the jobs data said they expected the Fed to keep interest rates steady at the central bank's next monetary policy meeting on Jan. 30-31.

But 14 of the 21 said they see the Fed reducing rates this year as core inflation moderates and a U.S. housing slowdown impinges on economic growth.

"We still believe that the Fed will ease rates this year but think the timing more likely in June. The core inflation figures will likely have moved lower by the summer and we look for the Fed to take out a little insurance against a more pronounced shortfall in growth by easing rates modestly," Calyon analysts said in a note to clients.

In the euro zone, rates are expected to rise to 3.75 percent later in the first quarter, with investors looking to the European Central Bank for signals on whether the move will come in February or March.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet is expected to give a news conference at 1145 GMT in Basel, Switzerland, at the close of the Bank of International Settlements' (BIS) bi-monthly meeting.

The ECB's next meeting is on Thursday, with rates seen on hold and the focus firmly on the post-decision news conference.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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