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Wednesday May 23, 2007 - 20:12:39 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar slides on BOE minutes; US data eyed

FOREX-Dollar slides on BOE minutes; US data eyed
Wed May 23, 2007 4:03 PM ET

(Updates prices, adds comment)

By David McMahon

NEW YORK, May 23 (Reuters) - The dollar fell on Wednesday after minutes from a Bank of England policy meeting and strong data on euro zone industrial orders suggested interest rates in Europe could rise more than previously thought.

The pound surged against the dollar after the BoE minutes showed that, contrary to expectations, the central bank's decision to raise rates this month was unanimous, and some members even had considered a half percentage point rise.

The euro initially followed suit, boosted by data showing a large rise in euro zone factory orders in March, but investor positioning before Thursday data on U.S. durable goods orders and new homes sales eroded those gains in later trade.

The market continues to price in two more quarter-point rate hikes from the European Central Bank this year, to 4.25 percent, but the chances of further hikes are rising.

"There's been a complete readjustment of interest rate expectations that caught everyone flat-footed, and now you're starting to see some short covering and the dollar strength that we've seen getting reversed," said Boris Schlossberg, senior currency strategist at DailyFX.com in New York.

By late afternoon, the euro was trading at $1.3458 , up 0.1 percent but off an earlier session high of $1.3502.

Sterling was up nearly 0.6 percent at $1.9857, having rallied more than 1 cent after the release of the minutes.

Elsewhere, the Canadian dollar hit a 29-1/2-year high of 1.0817 to the U.S. dollar, extending a rally driven by rising oil prices and a bidding war by foreign suitors for Canadian companies in the natural resources sector.

The dollar's decline was its first in three sessions. Over the past month, a crop of robust U.S. economic data has led the market to pare back expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year, supporting a dollar rebound.

Eurodollar futures now reflect around a 60 percent chance that the Fed will lower interest rates from 5.25 percent by the end of 2007, in contrast to earlier this year when more than a quarter-point rate cut was fully priced in.

But the dollar still faces a rough road ahead, said Alex Beuzelin, market analyst at Ruesch International in Washington.

"While the market has ratcheted back expectations of U.S. rate cuts, the euro zone and UK numbers today suggest higher rates there, and that's a prescription for renewed dollar weakness," he said.

CARRY ON SELLING YEN

The dollar was just 0.1 percent firmer against the yen at 121.65 yen but the Japanese currency took a beating against the euro, sterling and Australian dollar.

Markets expect Japanese interest rates to remain the lowest in the industrialized world for some time yet, and buoyant equity markets around the world have encouraged investors to sell yen for higher-yield assets in so-called carry trades.

Japanese households, too, have been pouring money into rising stock markets overseas, weighing on the currency.

"As long as global equity markets remain stable, retail investor outflows this quarter will ensure continued yen weakness," analysts at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ wrote in a note to clients.

The MSCI All-Country World Index <.MIWD00000PUS>, a barometer of global stock prices, hit a record peak on Wednesday, driven by gains in bourses from Shanghai to Frankfurt.

© 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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