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Monday April 23, 2007 - 20:51:03 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar edges upward but outlook seen grim

FOREX-Dollar edges upward but outlook seen grim
Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:39 PM ET

(Updates prices)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - The dollar clawed higher against a basket of major currencies on Monday, snapping a nine-day decline, but the outlook remained negative in the near term.

The view that the Federal Reserve may have to cut U.S. interest rates at least once this year to stimulate a slowing economy -- removing some of the dollar's lifeline of yield support -- has already sent the greenback to 26-year lows against sterling and two-year lows against the euro.

An upgrade by Standard and Poor's of Japan's sovereign debt rating briefly boosted the yen, but traders said buying in the currency had lost momentum in the New York session.

"The yen aside, the dollar is just going through a small corrective phase," said Matt Kassel, director of foreign exchange at ING Capital Markets in New York.

"There's nothing going on that has changed the scope of dollar-bearish sentiment. The market has had several weeks of dollar selling and I think this is just a little bit of profit-taking on the lack of upside momentum in other currencies," he added.

By late afternoon, the euro had slipped 0.2 percent to $1.3566 , with investors taking profits after the single currency last week climbed within half a cent of its record high of $1.3670.

Against the Japanese yen , the dollar was down slightly at 118.60 yen. The euro fell 0.2 percent to 161.03 yen , moving further away from the lifetime peak of 162.42 touched early last week.

The dollar index <.DXY> inched up 0.2 percent to 81.770, but still within sight of last week's two-year low of 81.507.

As an example of how tenuous Monday's recovery in the dollar was, dealers quickly pushed the greenback lower after the chief investment officer for the world's largest bond fund manager said the weakening dollar could have major consequences for investors.

"The dollar is close to breaking through support levels and if it does that then it could have significant implications for all markets, and certainly for the Treasury market in terms of inflation," Bill Gross of Pacific Investment Management Co. told Bloomberg television. For details, see [ID:nN23302370]

S&P raised its long-term sovereign rating on Japan to AA from AA-minus, giving support to the yen before a Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting and the central bank's twice-yearly economic outlook report on Friday.

The low-yielding yen has been heavily borrowed to fund investment in higher-yielding assets.

The yen, however, trimmed gains after vice finance minister Hideto Fujii said Japan was not considering setting up an investment body for managing foreign exchange reserves at this time, as had been reported in the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, the pound traded at $2.0007 against the dollar, further edging away from its 26-year peak at $2.0134 hit last week.

The Australian dollar , one of the biggest movers on the day, fell 0.6 percent against the U.S. dollar to $0.8320 following softer-than-expected producer price inflation data.

Overall, markets are looking ahead to this week's series of U.S. economic reports on gross domestic product, consumer confidence and housing for indications on how quickly economic growth is slowing.

Also, Japanese data due on Friday, including consumer prices, industrial output and jobs, was seen unlikely to change the market's view that the Bank of Japan would keep its overnight call rate at 0.5 percent for now.

(Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.


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