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Friday March 16, 2007 - 09:47:06 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dlr drops broadly on economic jitters, US data eyed

FOREX-Dlr drops broadly on economic jitters, US data eyed
Fri Mar 16, 2007 5:13am ET160

(changes dateline, byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) - The dollar slid broadly on Friday, hitting three-month lows against the euro and the Swiss franc as falling stocks and concerns about the U.S. housing sector and implications for the wider economy shook sentiment.

Markets were also concentrating on U.S. data due later in the day, with any signs of weakness seen knocking confidence further and raising the prospect of a U.S. interest rate cut, that would undermine the dollar's yield advantage.

A fall of 0.7 percent in the Nikkei average <.N225> kept the market on edge about a further unwinding of carry trades, in which investors borrow low-yielding currencies like the yen to buy higher-yielding currencies and assets.

Investors have been worried about the outlook for the U.S. economy after signs of growing problems in the U.S. mortgage and housing sectors rattled financial markets.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan weighed into the mortgage issue on Thursday, warning that problems in the subprime market could spread to other sectors. [ID:nN15449059]

"This is a definite dollar move as opposed to carry trade unwinding, equity market volatility or subprime mortgage volatility -- this is a general view that the U.S. is struggling and Greenspan is suggesting the same thing as well," Jeremy Hodges, head of FX Sales at Lloyds TSB Financial Markets said.

"It does look like there is still growth in other parts of the world and we're starting to see growth in Europe, but it looks like the U.S. is struggling. The housing market is looking very poor indeed and that's starting to weigh on the dollar," he added.

By 0839 GMT, the euro was up half a percent on the day at $1.3307 , having hit a three-month high of $1.3320. The single currency was steady at 155.58 yen .

The dollar was down 0.5 percent at 116.88 yen , and touched a three month low of 1.2073 Swiss francs following the Swiss National Bank's interest rate hike on Thursday to 2.25 percent.

The franc posted broad gains this week against major currencies as market players closed short positions in the low-yielding currency, which has been used to finance carry trades alongside the yen.


Major currencies have slipped against the yen, hit by shifting tastes for risk as a rebound in equity markets earlier in the week gave way to more heavy selling of stocks on worries about the U.S. economy, prompting investors to reverse carry trades and buy back the yen.

Hiroshi Watanabe, Japan's vice finance minister for international affairs, said in Sydney on Friday that the unwinding of carry trades had not been a threat to the market, with only short-term trades being liquidated.

Analysts said that investors were reticent over buying the dollar as they looked ahead to U.S. data including consumer prices, industrial output and consumer sentiment.

Economists are expecting a 0.2 percent rise in core inflation for February, following a 0.3 percent rise in January.

Industrial production is expected to have risen 0.2 percent in February, following a 0.5 percent drop in January.

"A bad inflation figure now, at a time when investors are concerned about the U.S. economy but still confident the Fed will cut rates, would strike a blow to risky assets and equities," RBC Capital Markets said in a note to clients

Data on Thursday showed more weakness among regional U.S. manufacturers, but wholesale price inflation in February was higher than expected.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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