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Tuesday January 9, 2007 - 11:24:24 GMT
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FOREX-Yen retreats from recent highs, dlr steadies vs euro

FOREX-Yen retreats from recent highs, dlr steadies vs euro
Tue Jan 9, 2007 6:13am ET139

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The yen fell against the dollar and the euro on Tuesday as investors focused on the fact that even if the Bank of Japan raises interest rates next week, it is still likely to be cautious about further monetary tightening.

The dollar steadied near recent six-week highs against the euro, with investors reluctant to push the European currency any lower ahead of a European Central Bank meeting on Thursday at which policymakers may pave the way for a February rate hike.

The BOJ next meets on Jan. 17-18 and expectations of a 25 basis point rate hike to 0.5 percent then have grown in recent days, originally sending the yen higher.

But the rally has now been judged as overdone, since Japan will remain a low-yielder for some time yet.

"The market is looking at the bigger picture, looking beyond the potential for rate hike next week and at the likelihood that the BOJ will remain cautious further out," said Derek Halpenny, currency economist at BTM-UFJ.

"In that context 25 basis points now is not going to change the popularity of the yen as the low yielding funding currency."

In carry trades, investors borrow the low-yielding yen to fund purchases of higher-yielding currencies. Such trades were a factor in the yen shedding more than 10 percent against the euro in 2006.

By 1044 GMT the euro had risen 0.4 percent to 155.19 yen , recovering from Monday's four-week low of 153.64 on talk of a possible BOJ hike next week but still around three yen below recent record highs.

The dollar was up a third of a percent at 119.12 yen .


The euro traded at $1.3029 , recovering from six-week lows hit on Monday near $1.2970.

Analysts said that a run of above-consensus U.S. data, including Friday's robust non-farm payrolls numbers, had pushed back estimates on the timing of a possible Federal Reserve rate cut from the current 5.25 percent, but the dollar had run out of steam with nothing to push things further.

"There has been a lot of covering of short dollar positions provoked by ... generally upbeat U.S. numbers recently. But we are at the point now where that has all been carried out," said Mitul Kotecha, head of global FX research at Calyon.

Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn said on Monday that the U.S. economy was poised for moderate growth and lower inflation, but there was no guarantee that core inflation would continue to ease, suggesting the central bank is in no rush to cut rates.

Kotecha said that Calyon had moved back its expectations for a U.S. rate cut to the second quarter of this year.

For more clues on the Fed's policy path, investors will scrutinise comments due this week from policymakers including Chicago Fed President Michael Moskow, who will speak on the U.S. economic outlook on Wednesday.

Policy-setting meetings of the European Central Bank and the Bank of England on Thursday will also vie for market attention.

Both the ECB and BoE are forecast to leave rates on hold, but investors are keen to hear ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet's remarks in his post-meeting news conference on the outlook for further hikes from the current 3.5 percent.

Expectations for further rate hikes in Norway were bolstered by better-than-expected retail sales and jobs data on Tuesday, sending the Norwegian crown higher versus the euro and the dollar despite downward pressure from falling oil prices .

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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