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Wednesday February 14, 2007 - 20:30:19 GMT
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FOREX-Dollar falls to 6-week low vs euro after Bernanke

FOREX-Dollar falls to 6-week low vs euro after Bernanke
Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:43pm ET163

(Updates prices, adds comment, changes byline)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The dollar fell to a six-week low against the euro on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said inflation pressures were starting to ease, boosting chances of a U.S. interest rate cut later this year.

The euro broke solidly above $1.31 for the first time since early January to $1.3152 after Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee inflation was starting to diminish, even though it will take time to confirm the downtrend.

Bernanke's remarks surprised those who expected him at the very least to echo recent comments from other Fed officials who have dwelt on upside risks to the inflation outlook.

"We were expecting Bernanke to be more hawkish. Obviously the headlines were not as hawkish. So you're going to a see a little bit of a sell-off in the U.S. dollar," said Firas Askari, head of FX trading at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

The euro was last at $1.3129, up 0.7 percent. Its broad move higher overnight inspired CitiFX Technicals analysts to recommend buying euros and selling dollars, anticipating a potential test of the record high in the euro above $1.3665.

"We believe the anticipated move higher back to $1.3370 and possibly $1.3670 has now begun," the analysts said in a note.

The dollar was down 0.3 percent at 120.80 yen , near a 120.63 session trough, and weakened against other major currencies.

U.S. rate futures rose on Bernanke's remarks, increasing the implied chances the central bank later this year will cut its benchmark interest rate from its current 5.25 percent level.

The lack of any comment suggesting an urgency to contain inflation spurred a bout of dollar selling.

"The testimony from Fed's Bernanke gave a picture of someone happy with the way things are unfolding, and thus looks consistent with policy remaining steady for some time to come," said David Sloan, an economist with 4Cast in New York.

Bernanke was delivering the first part of his semi-annual testimony before Congress. He will address the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday.


The dollar had been under pressure before Bernanke's testimony, especially against the euro, which rose on signs of stronger euro zone growth and expectations the European Central Bank will raise interest rates again in March.

A report showing that U.S. retail sales did not notch up a post-holiday boost in January, ending the month unchanged, also sparked some concern about the strength of the U.S. economy.

Brian Garvey, senior strategist at State Street Global Markets in Boston, said a narrowing gap between real yields on U.S. and euro zone debt suggests the growth momentum is tilting toward Europe, a bad sign for dollar bulls.

State Street Global Markets also recommended selling dollars and buying yen, in part because Japan's latest data on gross domestic product growth due on Thursday could be higher than expected.

Japanese investors could also generate demand for yen because of $27 billion of Treasury debt coupon payments this week, State Street said.

The median expectation according to a Reuters poll is for growth of 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year on a quarter-by-quarter basis, up from the prior quarter's 0.2 percent rate.

(Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Steven C. Johnson)

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved


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