Thursday May 10, 2007 - 10:44:52 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar enjoys post-Fed bounce, eyes on ECB, BoE
FOREX-Dollar enjoys post-Fed bounce, eyes on ECB, BoE
Thu May 10, 2007 6:39 AM ET
(Updates price, adds quotes, changes, byline)
By Simon Falush
LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) - The dollar strengthened on Thursday, hitting a 2-1/2 month high versus the yen in a broad upswing after the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision the previous day, as investors braced for two European rate decisions later in the session.
The dollar drew broad support from the Fed's decision on Wednesday to leave interest rates unchanged at 5.25 percent and its statement that inflation remains the bank's main concern, despite recent signs of economic weakness.
This prompted some investors to pare back bets on the Fed cutting rates this year and encouraged them to buy the dollar ahead of rate decisions later on Thursday from the Bank of England at 1100 GMT and the European Central Bank at 1145 GMT.
"It's nervousness ahead of the ECB, it's position firming before that," said Jeremy Stretch, strategist at Rabobank.
He added that the yen has seen significant weakness as increased appetite for risk has led investors back into the carry trade where they borrow low-yielding currencies like the yen to fund purchases of higher yielding currencies.
"The Dow reached an all-time high last night indicating a return to risk appetite," Stretch said.
"Yen crosses have been hit. (The yen) is the whipping boy of weak currencies at the moment."
At 1020 GMT the dollar was up a third of a percent at 120.42 yen , having hit 120.49 yen earlier, its highest level since February 27.
The euro was also up a third of a percent at 162.97 yen , within a yen of its lifetime peak set last week.
The euro was flat against the dollar at $1.3530 , down a cent and a half from its record high above $1.3680 in April.
The dollar index, which measures the dollar's strength against a basket of major currencies, hit its highest level since April 17.
ECB, BOE IN FOCUS
The ECB is set to hold rates steady but in its post-decision conference President Jean-Claude Trichet is likely to signal a rate hike in June, which would narrow yield differentials -- a key driver of the FX market.
"A hike in June is a completely discounted by the market. Everybody expects Trichet will go out today and signal that using the phrase 'strong vigilance'," said Johan Javeus, currency strategist at SEB in Stockholm.
"It will be a positive surprise for the euro if he indicates a June hike is not the peak in interest rates."
The Bank of England, meanwhile, is expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points to 5.5 percent, taking UK borrowing costs to the highest in the Group of Seven rich nations.
Sterling was down almost half a percent at $1.9865 after data showed that the UK trade deficit in March widened to more than 7 billion pounds, its largest in 10 months.
U.S. trade data for March is due later on Thursday, as well as speeches from Chicago Fed President Michael Moskow and Fed board governor Randall Kroszner.
Elsewhere, the Australian and New Zealand dollars rose after surprisingly strong jobs data underscored the sturdiness of the two countries' economies, where interest rates are already among the highest of industrialised economies.
The Australian dollar rose 0.7 percent on the day to US$0.8335 after data showing a jump in employment in April and a drop in the jobless rate to a 32-year low.
The New Zealand dollar was up a quarter of a percent to US$0.7349 after data showed employment in New Zealand grew at its fastest pace in 2-1/2 years in the first quarter.
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