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Wednesday January 10, 2007 - 11:15:06 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar hits highest since late Nov on rate view

FOREX-Dollar hits highest since late Nov on rate view
Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:04am ET19

(Updates prices, adds fresh quotes, changes byline)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - The dollar hit its highest level since late November against the euro, Swiss franc and an index of currencies on Wednesday as investors scaled back expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in coming months.

The dollar has resumed its climb against major currencies, particularly the euro, after robust jobs figures last week and other recent economic data strengthened the view that the Fed was unlikely to reduce rates any time soon.

Steep falls in commodity prices and selling in emerging equities markets triggered by a Venezuelan plan to nationalise its largest telecommunications firm and other major utilities also lent support to the dollar, analysts said.

"It's an uneasy global environment with commodity prices falling, and risk appetite has shrunk. This has led to position unwinding which is dollar-positive," Ian Gunner, head of foreign exchange research at Mellon Financial Corporation in London, said.

The euro fell to a 1-1/2 month low close to $1.2950 and was trading at $1.2994 at 1037 GMT, steady from the U.S. close.

The dollar also hit 1-1/2 month highs against the Swiss franc of 1.2446 before easing to 1.2420 and also hit 1-1/2 month highs against an index of currencies at 84.99 <=USD>.

The dollar softened slightly against the yen to 119.19 yen , and the euro was down slightly against the yen at 154.91 yen .

BOJ chief economist Hideo Hayakawa said that the consumption component of gross domestic product is likely to have rebounded sharply in the October-December quarter after a sharp contraction in the preceding quarter, prompting some yen buying, traders in Tokyo said.

Unexpectedly strong U.S. data has also supported the dollar, said analysts, denting expectations of a U.S. rate cut from the current 5.25 percent.

"The payrolls data has led to rate expectations being factored out, it's a corrective phase after the dollar was being oversold," said Peter Fontaine, currency strategist at KBC in Brussels.

"Investors are turning to the U.S. dollar as Venezuela is undermining emerging market sentiment."

U.S. TRADE

The market is focused on U.S. trade data for November at 1330 GMT, though the report will be unlikely to have an impact on rate expectations, traders said.

A Reuters poll of analysts gave a median estimate of a $59.9 billion trade deficit in November, up from a gap of $58.9 billion in October.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago president Michael Moskow is speaking on the U.S. economic outlook later on Wednesday.

But traders said the euro's slide may be limited for now, with the European Central Bank's policy meeting set for Thursday and traders expecting a rate hike as early as next month.

The ECB is widely expected to keep interest rates steady at 3.5 percent this week, with traders focusing on ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet's post-meeting news conference for clues about the pace of future rate hikes.

The BOJ, meanwhile, is expected to raise interest rates possibly as early as its policy meeting next week, from the current 0.25 percent.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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