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Monday April 30, 2007 - 10:49:18 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro falls back but scope for further record highs

FOREX-Euro falls back but scope for further record highs
Mon Apr 30, 2007 6:28 AM ET

(Changes byline, updates prices, quotes)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - The euro fell back from last week's all-time high versus the dollar on Monday as investors took profits though slower inflation did not dent expectations of further interest rate rises from the European Central Bank.

The yen strengthened broadly in thin trading, with Japanese financial markets closed for the first day of the Golden Week holiday on Monday. Many markets in Asia and much of Europe will be shut for holidays on Tuesday.

Expectations of at least one more rate hike by the European Central Bank, boosted by a run of robust data, have helped the euro rally at a time when U.S. rates are expected to be cut and Japanese ones are forecast to remain ultra low for some time.

Data on Friday showing that the U.S. economy grew at its slowest pace in four years in the first quarter sent the dollar to a record low versus the euro.

The rally to such lofty levels prompted investors to book profits in the single currency on Monday, though analysts said the euro could hit fresh highs later this week if U.S. data continues to come in below expectations.

"It's profit-taking. There is now a buying opportunity (in euro/dollar) ahead of (U.S.) data," said Carsten Fritsch, currency strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

"If U.S. data is soft we are likely to see a move towards $1.3680," he added.

U.S. core personal consumption expenditure (PCE) growth -- the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation measure -- is due at 1230 GMT and is expected to slow to 0.1 percent month-on-month in March from 0.3 percent in February.

The week's busy data calendar also features Institute for Supply Management's indexes and non-farm payrolls.

By 0939 GMT, the euro fell a third of a percent to $1.3606 , retreating from Friday's all-time peak of $1.3682.

It also fell a third of a percent against the yen, to 162.72 , after hitting a record high of 163.31 last week.

Euro zone M3 money supply numbers for March -- a measure keenly watched by the ECB -- showed annual growth of 10.9 percent, the highest in 24 years and well above consensus forecast of 9.8 percent.

Euro zone inflation slowed to 1.8 percent year-on-year in April, as expected. Inflation expectations fell among companies and consumers. The data did not shake expectations of more ECB rate hikes from the current 3.75 percent.

A June rate hike is almost fully priced in and markets are giving around a 60-65 percent chance of another move by year-end .

In the United States markets are pricing in around a 23 percent chance of a growth-boosting rate cut by August.

San Francisco Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen said on Saturday there is potential for a downturn in the U.S. economy whose effects could ripple around the world.


The dollar was flat versus the yen at 119.50 yen from late New York trade.

JP Morgan says that historically, the yen has tended to do well during Japan's Golden Week holiday.

"Japanese corporates and exporters, large net sellers of dollar/yen, typically leave sell orders on USD/JPY even as the economy eases into vacation period. However, Japanese investors, net buyers of dollar/yen are typically dormant over this time," the bank said in a research note.

The yen also got a bit of a boost on news that China's central bank on Sunday boosted the amount of reserves banks are required to set aside, the seventh such increase since June.

Traders covered short positions in the yen in case investors cut back on risky assets after the move by Beijing. But the reaction was muted, with the Shanghai Composite <.SSEC> rising more than 1 percent even as other equity markets retreated.

© 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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