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Tuesday May 1, 2007 - 10:10:44 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro marks fresh peaks vs yen, Swissie

FOREX-Euro marks fresh peaks vs yen, Swissie
Tue May 1, 2007 6:06 AM ET

(changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - The euro hit all-time highs versus the yen and Swiss franc on Tuesday and stayed near a record peak against the dollar as prospects for higher euro area interest rates bolstered the single currency in holiday-thinned trade.

The dollar was still broadly on the back foot with markets looking to fresh U.S. data on manufacturing and pending home sales later in the day for further insight on when the Federal Reserve might cut U.S. borrowing costs.

"There is little to change the view of an orderly, low volatility dollar bear trend. It was interesting yesterday that we saw quite a large reaction in U.S. yields to the low core PCE figures, giving a fresh impetus for a lower dollar," said Chris Turner, head of FX strategy at ING.

"The euro is staying really well bid. There were indications ... that we are going to get another strong German employment figure tomorrow, tending to support the domestic demand in Germany, so that's quite good for the euro and ECB rates."

Strong data from the euro zone, and particularly from Germany, has boosted expectations of a European Central Bank interest rate hike in June and perhaps another by year-end.

German labour minister Franc Muentefering said on Tuesday that Germany's headline unadjusted unemployment number fell to its lowest in 4-1/2 years in April.

Market activity was light, with much of Asia -- excluding Japan -- and large parts of continental Europe on holiday.

By 0938 GMT, the euro was steady at 163.08 yen , having hit a lifetime peak of 163.34 earlier. The single currency also hit a record high versus the Swiss franc at 1.6496 .

Against the dollar, the euro was flat on the day at $1.3634 , but still within sight of last week's record high above $1.3680. The dollar was steady at 119.54 yen .


The dollar has been languishing near its lows hit on Friday after data showing U.S. gross domestic product grew at the slowest pace in four years in the first quarter.

Figures on Monday showing benign inflation and modest growth in Midwest business activity provided more evidence of slowing U.S. economic growth, keeping sentiment bearish for the dollar.

Investors were expected to keep a keen eye on further U.S. data due later in the day including the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for April at 1400 GMT, with any further evidence of weakness seen backing expectations for U.S rates to be cut from the current 5.25 percent later this year.

A Reuters poll of 83 economists gave a median reading of 51.0 for the ISM, compared with 50.9 in March. Estimates ranged from 49.5 to 52.5, with only two forecasts for a reading below the 50 line that divides growth from contraction.

"Some of the regional surveys have been quite weak, while disruptive weather across the Midwest and Northeast is likely to have weighed on activity. We see some downside risk to our forecast (50.5) and a reading below 50 would be a significant surprise for the market," Barclays Capital said in a note.

Figures on U.S. pending home sales for March are also due at 1400 GMT.

The major economic release for this week is Friday's non-farm payrolls report. Economists expect that 100,000 jobs were added in April, well below an increase of 180,000 in March.

© 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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