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Wednesday April 11, 2007 - 20:42:55 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS-Yen touches record low vs euro after IMF comment

FOREX-Yen touches record low vs euro after IMF comment
Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:19pm ET162

(Recasts throughout; updates prices)

By Vivianne Rodrigues

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - The yen touched a record low against the euro on Wednesday, as investors took comments by the International Monetary Fund on carry-trades as a green light to keep borrowing yen to fund purchases of higher-yielding currencies.

The Japanese currency also hit decade lows against the Australian and New Zealand dollars after the IMF said it saw no need for "heavy-handed" action on the yen carry trade issue. For details, see [ID:nN11217813]

European officials have complained loudly this year about the yen's stubborn weakness, which they worry gives Japanese exports an advantage. But their rhetoric has cooled down in recent weeks and there have been few signs the issue will be taken up in earnest at a meeting of the Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers in Washington on Friday.

In late afternoon trading in New York, investors' focus turned to a European Central Bank rate-setting meeting on Thursday. The ECB is widely expected to leave rates unchanged but it may hint at a rate increase in the near future.

"The ECB is expected to raise interest rates as early as May which should continue to support the euro," said Mark Meadows, a currency strategist with Tempus Consulting, in Washington. The euro should remain "firm" against both yen and the dollar "ahead of the ECB tomorrow."

The euro was up 0.2 percent at 160.21 yen after rising as high as 160.43, according to EBS, hitting a record high for the second straight session. The euro has gained about two percent against the yen this year to date.

The dollar was up 0.2 percent against the yen at 119.30 yen.

The euro was trading little changed on the day against the dollar at $1.3426, after briefly falling after minutes of a Federal Reserve meeting showed policy-makers believed more interest rate increases may be needed to contain inflation.

The Fed left benchmark overnight interest rates on hold at 5.25 percent in late March and removed a phrase from its statement that pointed to further monetary tightening.

But according to the minutes, at that meeting the Fed's policy-setting committee said it saw downside risks to growth but agreed that it may have to raise rates again to tame inflation. [ID:nTRT000214]

"There were some tough words in there, such as 'more policy tightening may be necessary,'" said Axel Merk, a portfolio manager at the Merk Hard Currency Fund in Palo Alto, California.

The dollar also rose to a session high of 1.2225 Swiss francs right after the release of the minutes and later traded at 1.2203. (Additional reporting by Nick Olivari and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York)

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

 

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