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Tuesday January 23, 2007 - 21:42:04 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX-Dollar slides, falls to 14-yr low vs sterling

FOREX-Dollar slides, falls to 14-yr low vs sterling
Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:32pm ET140

(Updates prices, adds quotes, BOE King's remarks)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The dollar weakened against European currencies on Tuesday, hitting a 14-year low against sterling, as robust euro zone data and central bank comments signaled interest rates will continue to rise in Europe.

Meanwhile, the euro climbed to a record high against the low-yielding yen as investors sought currencies with higher rates of interest.

Further boosting the euro were remarks by European Central Bank officials, indicating that they may need to lift rates from the current 3.5 percent and stronger-than-expected industrial orders in the euro zone. For details, see [ID:nL23535132] and [ID:nL23915131].

"We had ... ECB members talk hawkishly in an attempt to downplay market expectations of the ECB remaining on hold in February," said Andy Busch, global currency strategist at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago.

"Along with a better-than-expected November euro zone industrial orders, this has driven the euro higher against the U.S. dollar and yen," he added.

The dollar posted surprising gains this month on generally strong U.S. data, suggesting that the economy was more resilient than many initially thought. But some traders wondered whether the market has already priced in much of the dollar's good news.

In late afternoon trading, the euro was 0.6 percent firmer against the dollar at $1.3023 . The dollar fell 0.5 percent against the Swiss franc to 1.2423 francs .

Sterling soared to a 14-year peak at $1.9917 . It last traded at $1.9816, up 0.3 percent on the day.

Market participants are awaiting U.S. housing data later in the week to confirm that the real estate market has overcome a soft patch.

BOJ COMMENTS NEGATIVE FOR YEN

Comments by Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui on Tuesday helped the dollar trim its losses against the yen.

Fukui told Reuters higher rates could ultimately benefit the Japanese economy, but the BOJ would rather err on the side of caution as long as data are mixed. [ID:nLAE000360]

"We perceive BOJ Governor Fukui's comments as a mild negative for the yen," said Nick Bennenbroek, senior FX strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

"He gave no hint on the timing of rate hikes, though 'uncertainty' suggests a move could be delayed beyond February," he added.

Japan's interest rates stand at just 0.25 percent and doubts about whether the BOJ will tighten in February weighed on the yen. The carry trade -- in which investors borrow the yen and other low-yielding currencies to fund investments in currencies with higher returns -- has enjoyed a renewed surge in popularity.

The dollar was up slightly against the yen at 121.64 yen , still unable to get past a near four-year high around 121.87. The euro traded to a record high around 158.49 yen , according to electronic trading platform EBS.

Sterling had climbed to 241.49 yen , a level last seen in September 1992. Traders said the move in sterling/yen helped the pound's rise to 14-year peaks against the dollar.

Analysts said British interest rates, which are level with those in the United States at 5.25 percent but seem more likely to rise, supported sterling against the dollar and yen.

Expectations for further tightening in the UK again increased after remarks by Bank of England Governor Mervyn King on Tuesday, saying risks to British inflation and growth have shifted to the upside. However, he noted that early action from policymakers will ultimately save the country from much higher interest rates.

His remarks gave a slight boost to the pound.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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