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Friday March 30, 2007 - 10:29:35 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS-Dollar steadies as investors eye US inflation data

FOREX-Dollar steadies as investors eye US inflation data
Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:21am ET18

(Updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - The dollar steadied against the yen and edged up versus the euro on Friday as investors looked to U.S. inflation and business activity data to see if a slowing economy could prompt the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

The euro was unfazed by a flash estimate of euro zone March inflation, which reinforced expectations for the European Central Bank to raise rates in the second quarter.

Investors bought back the dollar on Thursday after revised data showed the U.S. economy grew at a faster pace in the fourth quarter of 2006 than initially reported.

Attention has now turned to the core PCE, the Fed's favourite measure of inflation, for February. A survey of Chicago-region business activity and the final release of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index are also due.

"It's an interesting combination of U.S. data today with inputs in inflation and activity," ING head of FX strategy Chris Turner said.

"Core PCE is key for the markets -- if there were a risk to that, it could be modestly to the upside which might be trouble for equity markets and suggest that (Fed Chairman) Bernanke doesn't have as much flexibility as he would like," he said.

By 1010 GMT, the dollar was little changed on the day at 118.06 yen after Japanese inflation landed in line with forecasts, although it registered the first fall in 10 months.

The euro was down a touch at $1.3310 and at 157.22 yen .

Rising oil prices boosted the Canadian dollar, which was the day's best performer, up 0.5 percent against the dollar to C$1.1529 .

The New Zealand dollar retreated after a report showed the economy grew a weaker-than-expected 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous one, though the data did not alter expectations the central bank will maintain a tightening bias.

INFLATION OUTLOOK

Japanese nationwide core consumer prices fell 0.1 percent in February from a year earlier, reinforcing the view that a lack of inflation will keep the pace of interest rate rises from the Bank of Japan slow.

In the euro zone, the picture was rosier with March inflation up 1.9 percent on the year from 1.8 in the previous month, close to the ECB's threshold of 2 percent.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and Governing Council member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi will give a news conference in Berlin later.

"Everything is printing strongly in Europe of late. The issue is the ECB will probably hike rates again in June," Westpac currency strategist Geoff Kendrick said.

Later in the session, investors will also focus on speeches from Fed officials, including Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks but on community affairs.

"Renewed broad dollar downside momentum is probably contingent on more definitive market pricing of near-term Fed easing," UBS said in a note to clients.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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