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Tuesday March 20, 2007 - 11:54:51 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS-Recovering risk appetite knocks yen, pound rallies

FOREX-Recovering risk appetite knocks yen, pound rallies
Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:13am ET147

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - The yen extended losses against other major currencies on Tuesday as resurgent stock markets revived investors' appetite for risk.

With investors becoming more comfortable with borrowing low-yielders like the yen to fund purchases of higher return units, growing expectations of further rate hikes in Britain after above-forecast inflation data sparked a rally in sterling.

The Bank of Japan's decision to hold rates at 0.5 percent had little impact as it was widely expected, while BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui stuck to previous comments by saying the bank would adjust rates gradually.

Relative calm has returned to financial markets this week after the recent sharp unwinding of yen funded carry trades and sell off in global equities, with investors unwilling to take new positions ahead of U.S. data and a Federal Reserve meeting.

"It does seem to be a morning where people perhaps are taking stock. We've got a reasonably eventful week coming up from here, with the Federal Reserve meeting ... and may be that's injected a degree of calm into the market," said Simon Derrick, head of currency research at Bank of New York.

"We've got a fairly sharp move taking place in euro/sterling, obviously prompted by the higher than expected UK CPI data and that seems to be taking its toll (on euro/dollar)," he added. Continued...

The euro ticked down to $1.3282 by 1051 GMT.

The dollar rose to highs just above 118.00 yen before pulling back to 117.75 yen, still up 0.2 percent on the day. The euro rose as high as 156.96 yen, before erasing gains .

Sterling, already bolstered by rates of 5.25 percent, rallied broadly after above forecast inflation data.

The high-yielding Australian dollar hit a 10-year high of $0.8036, buoyed by speculation that Australia's central bank could raise rates as early as next month to fight inflation pressures .

U.S. HOUSING ON HORIZON

Investors will pay close attention to U.S. housing data due later in the day, amid concern that the subprime mortgage crisis could hurt the broader economy and prompt the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

Data released on Monday showed that confidence among U.S. homebuilders sank in March, with the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index falling more than expected to 36 from a downwardly revised 39 a month earlier.

Economists forecast a slight increase to a 1.450 million annualised rate for housing starts in February, due at 1230 GMT, compared with a 14.3 percent drop to 1.408 million in January.

The Fed ends a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, and investors are looking to see whether it says anything about recent global equity turmoil or modifies its current bias towards lifting rates further from the current 5.25 percent.

ING analysts said in a note to clients that the housing data "may under-perform consensus and add to the view that the Fed will have to acknowledge more sluggish activity in tomorrow's FOMC statement".

Several analysts expect the Fed to start cutting rates later in the year to help the economy, and any shift in market sentiment towards a possible earlier rate cut may hurt the dollar's yield advantage.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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