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Friday March 9, 2007 - 00:12:59 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar rises vs low-yielders ahead of payrolls

FOREX-Dollar rises vs low-yielders ahead of payrolls
Thu Mar 8, 2007 4:50pm ET146

(Updates prices, adds comments)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) - The dollar climbed against the yen and Swiss franc on Thursday, with investors feeling a bit more comfortable buying riskier assets financed by borrowing low-yielding currencies, a day before the U.S. payrolls report.

But investors remain cautious about diving back into large positions anticipating more yen weakness after last week, when a sudden spike in risk aversion pushed up the Japanese currency to 3-month highs and sent global equity markets tumbling.

If Friday's U.S. employment report shows weaker-than-expected jobs growth, dealers may continue to cut back on risky positions on the view economic growth is slowing.

"For the time being, sentiment seems to favor the dollar due to the reestablishing of carry trades," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist with RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

"If the payrolls number comes in lower than expected, there will be a reversal of this positive sentiment," he said.

The dollar rose 0.9 percent to 117.05 yen , though it gave up some gains after U.S. stock indexes softened off the intraday highs.

The dollar's advance against the yen on Thursday was the biggest since early December but met technical resistance at the 200-day moving average around 117.50 yen.

The euro climbed 0.6 percent against the yen to 153.83 yen . It also strengthened 0.5 percent to 1.6121 Swiss francs . Against the dollar, the euro was down 0.3 percent at $1.3133 .

The European Central Bank raised its benchmark interest rate to a five-year high of 3.75 percent, but nuanced comments by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet left dealers uncertain over how much higher euro zone interest rates could rise.

That weighed the euro down against the dollar, particularly in light of the greenback's broad strength on Thursday.


Financial markets have not been paying much attention to U.S. economic data, which as of late has been on the soft side, leading the futures market to fully price in a half a percentage point of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year.

Rather the focus continues to be whether the yen's rally is over for now and if carry trades will continue in force.

However Sophia Drossos, currency strategist with Morgan Stanley in New York, said it is still unclear whether the troubled U.S. subprime mortgage lending industry will spill over to the rest of the economy.

"The macroeconomic uncertainty in the United States should only serve to reinforce investor uneasiness. This poses a key risk for carry trades, which tend to flourish mostly in environments of low volatility," Drossos said in a report.

The median forecast among economists polled by Reuters is for a gain of 100,000 jobs in February, while other reports this week have raised speculation that the figure could be even lower.

A stock market rebound this week has made investors more comfortable with taking on the risk of borrowing the low-yielding yen to invest in higher-return assets.

The New Zealand dollar rallied across the board with equity markets for now on the rise, adding about 0.9 percent versus the greenback and 1.8 percent against the yen .

Elsewhere, sterling erased earlier gains and fell versus the dollar after the Bank of England held rates at 5.25 percent as expected, disappointing a minority who had been speculating about the possibility of a surprise rate hike.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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