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Thursday January 11, 2007 - 22:41:00 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar rises vs euro as Trichet cools markets

FOREX-Dollar rises vs euro as Trichet cools markets
Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:07pm ET18

(Updates throughout)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The dollar rose to its highest since late November against the euro on Thursday as demand for the European currency fell after the European Central Bank suggested it may not raise rates again next month as some had anticipated.

The euro also dropped sharply against sterling, which rallied against several currencies after a surprise interest rate increase by the Bank of England.

The European currency hit its lowest since Nov. 22 as markets interpreted ECB President Jean Claude Trichet's remarks as offering no clear signal that rates would rise next month and perhaps not in March.

Trichet said after the ECB left rates at 3.50 percent that policy remained accommodative but the bank would not use "strong vigilance" in setting monetary policy. Trichet's use of "vigilance" in his statement has frequently signaled an imminent move on rates.

Trichet "essentially downplayed the prospects of a February rate hike but," said Robert Lynch, a foreign exchange strategist for the Americas at HSBC. "Since last summer, they have been tightening every other month, and February would have been the 'on month' but it's not anymore, so that too is a notable element."

In a Reuters poll taken after the ECB meeting on Thursday, the median forecast in the survey of 63 economists showed an 80 percent chance of a 25-basis-point rate hike in March. For details, see [ID:nL11628014].

The euro was at $1.2889 in late afternoon trading in New York, down about 0.4 percent on the day, and pared some gains against the yen to reach 155.37 yen, still up 0.4 percent on the day but down from the session high on the EBS electronic trading platform at 156.35 yen.

Meanwhile, the dollar also rallied against the yen, reaching its highest level in over a year, above 120.00 yen and on course for its largest daily increase in a month.

Investors doubt that a rate raise next week from the Bank of Japan will boost the yen's appeal among non-Japanese investors, given that it will still be the lowest-yielding currency within the Group of Seven richest nations.

The yen has fallen against every one of its G7 peers except the Canadian dollar in the last three months, having lost 2.0 percent against the U.S. dollar and 3.6 percent against the euro.

"Even if the BoJ were to lift rates next week, we don't think it will be the start of 'the big unwind' in the yen carry trade," wrote UBS Securities' strategist Daniel Katzive in a note.

In the yen carry trade, investors borrow the lower-yielding Japanese currency in order to buy investments in higher-yielding currencies.

Sterling broke a 10-year high on a trade-weighted basis <=GBP> and rose to 18-month highs against the euro after the Bank of England surprised markets with an increase in UK rates to 5.25 percent.

The pound was last at 66.26 pence as the euro shed almost 1 percent, and rose 0.6 percent against the dollar to $1.9446.

(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper)

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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