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Friday March 23, 2007 - 10:31:24 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen rises broadly, dollar rangebound

FOREX-Yen rises broadly, dollar rangebound
Fri Mar 23, 2007 5:34am ET15

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - The yen rose broadly on Friday as investors took profit on yield-dependent carry trades while the dollar was steadier as investors digested this week's Federal Reserve policy statement.

In Asian trading, the yen was slightly weaker as the dollar firmed on expectations the Fed would leave interest rates on hold for some time.

But investors started buying back the yen in Europe against European currencies and the dollar ahead of the weekend.

"Its fair to say we're seeing a little bit of an unwind here and maybe people are looking to lock in a little bit of profit," Rabobank markets strategist Jeremy Stretch said.

Investors were coming round to a view that the Fed may keep rates at 5.25 percent for some time, with focus turning to U.S. housing data for fresh impetus.

Analysts said further consideration of the Fed's policy statement on Wednesday, where it dropped a reference to further rate rises, did not necessarily mean an imminent cut in borrowing costs was on the cards.

Instead they argued that the statement simply gave the U.S. central bank more room for manoeuvre.

"The statement left the Fed open in either direction ... they have still got the sentence that inflation is a concern but by taking out the reference that additional tightening may be needed they now have more flexibility," Marcus Hettinger, Global FX Strategist at Credit Suisse in Zurich, said.

"In our view the statement is neutral and for the coming months rates are clearly on hold and still data dependent," he said.

Further insight could come later in the day with speeches from a string of Fed officials including Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Timothy Geithner at 1530 GMT.

In Europe, European Central Bank executive board member Juergen Stark speaks at 1100 GMT, while ECB Vice-President Lucas Papademos addresses a conference at 1400 GMT.

By 0915 GMT, the euro was down against the dollar at $1.3308, off a two-year high hit in the aftermath of Wednesday's Fed statement.

The dollar was down 0.4 percent against the yen at 117.56 , while the euro was down 0.6 percent at 156.45 yen .

Sterling was down almost 0.6 percent at 230.39 yen having hit a three-week high earlier.

The dollar was flat at 1.2145 Swiss francs

U.S. short-term interest rate futures priced in about a 30 percent chance of a rate cut by the end of June, down from about 50 percent just after the Fed's statement on Wednesday.


Recent worries about the health of the U.S. economy, including soft manufacturing data and rising defaults in home loans to borrowers with poor credit, have weighed on the dollar, placing more emphasis on housing figures.

The market will look at Friday's report on existing home sales for signs that subprime mortgage defaults have had a negative impact on the housing market.

"The Fed abandoned January's prematurely upbeat assessment of the housing market at this week's FOMC and said instead that 'the adjustment in the housing sector is ongoing'. Given the downside risks to the housing market the ongoing adjustment may have much further to run," Calyon strategists said.

Economists polled by Reuters forecast existing home sales to fall to an annualised 6.31 million in February from 6.46 million in January.

Worries about contagion in the U.S. housing sector was one of the triggers behind heavy sell-offs in global equities that forced investors to cut their holdings of riskier assets -- prompting sharp rallies in the yen in recent weeks.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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