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Friday May 11, 2007 - 10:23:27 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen rises on China rate talk, abating risk appetite

FOREX-Yen rises on China rate talk, abating risk appetite
Fri May 11, 2007 6:17 AM ET

(Recasts, updates price, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Natsuko Waki

LONDON, May 11 (Reuters) - The yen rose against the dollar and euro on Friday, tracking the Chinese yuan which hit a post-revaluation high on speculation about an interest rate hike in China.

Falling global stocks also prompted investors to cut back on overstretched carry trades -- borrowing currencies like the yen to fund higher-yielding investments -- ahead of U.S. retail sales and producer inflation data later in the day.

"It's a combination of the weakness we've seen in equity markets over the past 24 hours, that has been helping the yen, but probably this last move is likely to have been the result of some market speculation with regards to China," said Ian Stannard, currency strategist at BNP Paribas.

By 0955 GMT the dollar was down 0.2 percent at 119.65 yen while the euro was also down 0.2 percent to hit a three-week low of 161.07 yen , more than two yen below recent all-time highs.

The euro was steady at $1.3476 , about two cents below record highs set last month and having matched the previous day's one-month low of $1.3464 earlier.

The yuan rose as high as 7.6750 before finishing the day up 0.2 percent. That was its second biggest one-day rise in percentage terms since the yuan was revalued in July 2005, and meant this week was its best-performing week since then.

Chinese trade data on Friday [nL11357240] renewed the focus on the yuan, which critics say is undervalued and giving an unfair advantage to the country's exports.

US RETAIL SALES

Investors are eyeing U.S. data later in the day which would further test their risk appetite. A soft reading of April retail sales could back up Federal Reserve rate cut expectations, although any signs of continued upward pressures on producer prices are likely to muddy the outlook.

"Price action does seem to signal some fatigue from the up move of euro/dollar. It appears the weakening U.S. economic outlook appears fairly discounted at this point," said Todd Elmer, currency strategist at Citigroup.

He said the currency response to global stock market falls was muted. "A correction in risk trades will prove to be short-lived because the macroeconomic backdrop has not shifted."

Friday's data will be of particular interest given that the latest sell-off on Wall Street was sparked by disappointing sales figures from retailers like Federated Department Stores , the parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's.

U.S. stocks posted their steepest fall in two months on Thursday. Concerns about the U.S. economic outlook led to a sell-off in Asian high-tech stocks, leaving Tokyo's Nikkei average down around 1 percent on the day.

European equities were also in the red on Friday.

Investors expect the Fed to cut interest rates later this year but the central bank, after leaving interest rates steady earlier in the week, kept its focus on inflation.

"There has been limited evidence from a spillover from the housing market slowing to softer consumption to the broader economy. So a significant shock to interest rate expectations is less likely at this stage," Elmer said.

© 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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