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Monday January 15, 2007 - 12:05:29 GMT
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FOREX-Euro edges up as dollar rally fades; yen easing

FOREX-Euro edges up as dollar rally fades; yen easing
Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:18am ET137

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The euro moved off the previous week's 1-1/2 month lows versus the dollar on Monday as the impact of better than expected U.S. data faded, with volumes also seen petering out during a U.S. public holiday.

The yen weakened against the euro and held near a 13-month low versus the dollar despite growing expectations the Bank of Japan will lift interest rates this week. A quarter point move would take rates to 0.5 percent, still leaving the yen under pressure as a low-yielding currency.

Strong data releases on the U.S. economy, including jobs and retail sales numbers, have poured cold water on expectations of a near-term interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve, but some analysts still expect borrowing costs to be cut by the middle of this year.

In contrast, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet signalled on Thursday that euro zone rates will next be raised from the current 3.5 percent in March, disappointing those in the market who had banked on a February move, but still sounding a robust note on the health of the euro area economy.

"Following on from the retail sales (on Friday), which were stronger than expected, the dollar only managed a very limited and brief rally. We've always believed the (dollar) recovery to be a correction and that's now coming to an end," said Ian Stannard, senior foreign exchange strategist at BNP Paribas.

He said a sustained move in the euro above $1.2940 would lead to a recovery towards $1.3050 levels.

By 1058 GMT, the euro was up 0.2 percent on the day at $1.2941 , rebounding from a 1-1/2-month low of $1.2864 hit on Friday.

Sterling extended its gains after the Bank of England surprised the markets with a rate rise last week, hitting a 2-1/2 year high versus the euro and an eight-year peak against the yen . It was up 0.3 percent at $1.9648 , its strongest in more than a week.

The dollar stood at 120.54 yen , off Friday's 13-month peak of 120.74 yen. The euro rose to 156.06 yen .


Investors believe the BOJ is likely to raise overnight rates to 0.5 percent, which would be the highest since 1995, despite warnings from some officials that the central bank should wait to support recovery from deflation.

"The BOJ meeting is probably the most significant event of this week, most people are looking for a hike so to some extent it is already priced in. But nevertheless it will be interesting to see how the market reacts," Deutsche Bank currency strategist Bilal Hafeez said.

Japan's vice finance minister Hideto Fujii said on Monday he hoped the BOJ would support steady economic growth through its monetary policy.

A Reuters survey on Monday showed most market players expect the BOJ -- which raised interest rates for the first time in six years last July -- to raise them again at a two-day policy meeting that ends on Thursday.

But even a BOJ rate rise would not erode the huge yield advantage of other major currencies, with both U.S. and British short-term rates at 5.25 percent and Japan's central bank seen moving slowly on any further policy tightening.

Japanese data on Monday showed core machinery orders rose by a better-than-expected 3.8 percent on the month in November, reinforcing market expectations for a BOJ rate rise.

Japanese newspapers reported at the weekend the BOJ was likely to lift rates this week, viewing the economy as strong enough to withstand a rate rise and believing consumer spending will stay on a rising trend.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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