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Thursday March 15, 2007 - 20:00:20 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar climbs vs yen, helped by higher US stocks

FOREX-Dollar climbs vs yen, helped by higher US stocks
Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:43pm ET147

(Updates prices, adds Greenspan comments)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - The dollar advanced against the yen on Thursday, buoyed by U.S. stock indexes' modest gains and a U.S. Mid-Atlantic manufacturing survey that offered more positive signs for the economy than its weak headline number suggested.

For the past several weeks, the greenback has moved in tandem with the U.S. stock market, where recent volatility has been largely influenced by developments in the U.S. subprime mortgage market. On Thursday, investors remained focused on whether the crisis in that sector is spreading to the broader economy. For more, see [ID:nN07265694]

A generally positive interpretation of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve survey also boosted the dollar, supporting the view that the overall U.S. economy has been more resilient than many analysts initially thought.

"There is still an overall link between risk reduction, the yen carry trade and equity prices," said David Greenwald, a partner at short-term currency hedge fund Scalene Capital in Newport Beach, California.

In carry trades, investors borrow cheaply to buy higher-yielding assets or currencies.

The dollar rose 0.5 percent to 117.61 yen . Mirroring the dollar's rise, U.S. stocks were also higher in mid-afternoon trading, as financial shares recovered from recent losses.

However, stocks pared gains after former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned on Thursday of contagion risks in the subprime market. The dollar also came off its highs against the yen in line with U.S. stocks' movement.

Speaking before members of the Futures Industry Association in Boca Raton, Florida, Greenspan said it was "hard to find any such evidence" about spillover of the subprime mortgage market from housing yet, but added: "You can't take 10 percent out of mortgage originations without some impact." See Greenspan story [ID:nN15449059].

Against the dollar, the euro was little changed at $1.3232 . The euro gained 0.6 percent against the yen to 155.64.

Scalene's Greenwald also said although the Philadelphia Fed survey's headline number was lower than expected, it was better than the whisper number that came out before the report's release. That helped the dollar post gains versus the yen.

"Any kind of benign number with moderate growth is a good thing for the yen crosses in terms of the carry trade," Greenwald said.

As it turned out, the index of regional manufacturing fell to 0.2 in March, from 0.6 in February, and much lower than the market's consensus forecast for a reading of 4.

The report, however, showed a higher employment index and a stronger prices paid component, which indicated that there is enough inflationary pressure in the U.S. economy that should at least keep the Fed from cutting interest rates. For details of the Philadelphia Fed report, click on [ID:nTAR001069]

Earlier data on February U.S. wholesale inflation and January U.S. capital inflows was higher than expected. But traders said they were not enough to shift attention away from the stock markets for indications of investors' tolerance for risk.

"The market's concerns have for the time being shifted away from price data to concerns about the economy," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist with RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

The dollar was flat against the Swiss franc at 1.2178 francs , although it fell earlier after the Swiss National Bank raised interest rates and boosted its inflation forecasts, as expected. [ID:nL15526316]

Still, Switzerland has some of the lowest interest rates among the world's industrialized economies, which has made the Swiss franc a popular funding currency for carry trades.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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