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Friday April 27, 2007 - 08:55:47 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen touches record low vs euro, U.S. GDP eyed

FOREX-Yen touches record low vs euro, U.S. GDP eyed
Fri Apr 27, 2007 4:09 AM ET

(Changes dateline, byline, updates prices, adds quotes

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - The yen briefly fell to a record low against the euro on Friday after a larger-than-expected drop in Japan's core consumer prices, while the dollar steadied versus major currencies before U.S. first quarter growth data.

The yen's losses proved short lived thanks to currency hedging by Japanese exporters before "Golden Week" holidays next week and comments from Bank of Japan governor Toshihiko Fukui that the BOJ may need to adjust interest rates despite near-term weakness in prices.

The dollar stayed about 70 ticks away from record lows against the euro, as investors awaited gross domestic product data for clues on whether the world's biggest economy is going to need a growth-boosting interest rate cut in the coming months.

"The (U.S.) data should show that Q1 was a relatively weak quarter compared to Q4 ... In general the outlook is very weak out of the U.S. and very strong out of the euro area, so euro/dollar should continue to creep higher," said Tobias Thygesen, senior analyst at Danske Markets in Copenhagen.

"We are looking for further upside from euro/yen ... The data from Japan was weak across the board and the Bank of Japan has just published its semi-annual report where it cuts its inflation expectations, so there is not really any need for the BOJ to hike rates any time soon," he added.

The euro rose as high as 162.84 yen , its peak since the common currency was first introduced in 1999, but later trimmed gains to stand at 162.41 yen by 0724 GMT. The dollar was little changed on the data at 119.45 yen .

The euro stood at $1.3601 , flat on the day. It had climbed above $1.3660 on Wednesday, in sight of December 2004's all-time high of around $1.3670, on expectations of higher euro zone interest rates in the coming months.


Data on Friday showed Japan's core consumer prices declined 0.3 percent in March compared with a consensus forecast of a 0.2 percent fall. In its semi-annual report the BOJ cut its forecast for the rise in core CPI for the current fiscal year to 0.1 percent from 0.5.

The data confirmed expectations that Japanese interest rates would rise only very slowly from the current 0.5 percent, leaving the yen as a cheap source of borrowing to fund carry trade investments in higher yielding currencies and assets.

Governor Toshihiko Fukui said the BOJ may need to adjust interest rates despite near-term weakness in price moves if the long-term trend in the economy and prices is strong. But he added that the bank would stick to its stance of keeping rates very low for some time.

Japanese markets will be closed on Monday. They resume trade on Tuesday but will be shut again on Thursday and Friday.


U.S. data, due at 1230 GMT, is expected to show annualised first quarter growth of 1.8 percent, the slowest since late 2005 and down from 2.5 percent in the final three months of 2006.

"If in line with consensus GDP will weigh on the dollar, fuelling rate cut expectations and concerns on the future stance of the U.S. economy. A test of recent highs is likely and a move towards $1.37 possible," said Commerzbank Corporates & Markets.

"Ahead of the weekend, though, a break of $1.37 may be difficult considering current high euro long positioning," the bank added in a research note.

Investors expect the U.S. central bank to cut interest rates at least once this year, compared with forecasts of higher rates in the euro zone, Britain and elsewhere.

That combined with recent data showing signs of slower U.S. economic growth has encouraged investors to sell the dollar.

On Wednesday the dollar fell to a record low against a trade-weighted basket of major currencies calculated by the Fed, the weakest since the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange-rate system in 1973.

© 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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