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Thursday January 18, 2007 - 22:25:14 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar near 4-year highs vs yen, down vs euro

FOREX-Dollar near 4-year highs vs yen, down vs euro
Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:58pm ET15

(Updates prices, adds comment)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The dollar rose to nearly a four-year peak against the yen on Thursday, buoyed by a raft of generally strong U.S. economic data and a decision by the Bank of Japan to keep interest rates steady.

The dollar, however, turned lower against the euro and sterling in late trading on some technical selling, despite positive U.S. numbers, traders said.

"We're seeing the dollar give up some of its gains against the euro, but I wouldn't read anything into that. That's just position adjustment," said Joe Francomano, vice president of foreign exchange at Erste Bank in New York.

He noted that the U.S. economic data were all supportive of the dollar and overall the currency did quite well, posting the sharpest gains against the yen.

"I'm focusing on the yen and its performance on the crosses and today it's obviously much weaker from yesterday," Francomano said.

The yen had earlier come under intense pressure after the the BOJ kept rates on hold at 0.25 percent, the lowest in the industrialized world. That helped push the dollar to 121.60 yen, the highest since March 2003, according to electronic trading platform EBS.

By late afternoon trading, the dollar came off highs to trade at 121.20 , still up 0.5 percent on the day.

Thursday's U.S. data bolstered expectations the Federal Reserve won't have to cut U.S. rates any time soon.

A stronger-than-expected U.S. Mid-Atlantic manufacturing survey for January, a broadly in-line consumer price index in December, and a rise in the pace of U.S. home construction in the same month enhanced the market's bullish dollar sentiment. For details see [ID:nN18446448].

The euro initially fell on the robust U.S. data, but recovered late in the day to $1.2958 , up 0.2 percent from late on Wednesday. Sterling, meanwhile, was up 0.2 percent at $1.9737 .

Naomi Fink, senior currency strategist at BNP Paribas in New York, said gains in the euro against the dollar were helped by buying interest in the single currency versus the yen.

"The dollar's limited ability to capitalize on good data versus the euro shows euro/yen bullishness is keeping euro/dollar dips limited," Fink said.

The euro rose to a roughly two-week high against the yen at 157.39, before trading back down to 157.18 yen , still up 0.8 percent on the day.

After the string of U.S. data, the interest-rate futures market briefly showed a 2 percent chance the Fed will raise rates by its March meeting but for the most part were fully priced for it to hold steady through the first quarter.

Futures also no longer fully price in a single quarter-point rate cut for 2007 .


Amid Thursday's heavy U.S. data calendar, the market's focus remained on the yen, which also fell to an eight-and-a-half-year low versus sterling around 240.01 yen on the BOJ decision and close to a 10-year trough against the Australian dollar at 95.79 yen .

After the BOJ meeting, Governor Toshihiko Fukui said the bank determined it prudent to await more data, given that indicators have been mixed. That drew some strong reaction from the international community.

Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said the decision appeared to have resulted from political pressure.

"For the time being, the yen remains the FX world's favorite whipping boy and market sentiment will not begin to warm towards the currency until Japanese economic data begins to produce better results," said Boris Schlossberg, senior currency strategist at Forex Capital Markets in New York.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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