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Friday May 25, 2007 - 10:30:12 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dlr buoyed by strong US data, yen supported

FOREX-Dlr buoyed by strong US data, yen supported
Fri May 25, 2007 6:21 AM ET

(Changes byline, updates prices and adds quotes)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a six-week peak against the euro on Friday, cheered by strong U.S. housing data the previous session, while falling equity markets boosted the yen as investors trimmed exposure to riskier assets.

Geo-political concerns also moved back onto investors radar screens. A report from Japan's Kyodo news agency that North Korea had fired several short range missiles into the Sea of Japan caused the yen to fall briefly versus the dollar and euro.

News on Thursday that U.S. new home sales rose at their fastest rate in 14 years in April as builders slashed prices was the latest in a series of fairly upbeat data, firming investors' convictions that the world's biggest economy is heading for a soft, rather than hard, landing.

"The data coming out of the U.S. is not completely convincing...but the manufacturing numbers are all coming out in support of a slightly better situation and that supports the hardening of rate expectations in the U.S.," Mellon Bank head of currency research Ian Gunner said.

"There's definitely some positional risk in the dollar's favour," he added.

With recent rallies in stocks appearing to peter out, investors in currency markets were also taking a slightly more cautious approach to risk, scaling back some of their carry trade bets where low yielders like the yen are borrowed to fund purchases of higher return assets.

"There still seems to be appetite to buy the yen on dips...the yen will continue to take its cue from global markets but you have to wonder whether there is really enough negative news flow to puncture global market optimism," Gunner said.

By 0946 GMT the euro was buying $1.3429, within sight of an earlier 6-week low of $1.3413.

The yen hit a two-week high at 162.20 yen per euro , before trimming gains to stand at 163.11 -- around one yen away from record lows seen earlier this week.

It also hit a one-week high of 120.87 per dollar , recovering from Wednesday's three-month troughs of 121.87.

Asia-based traders said that while the yen dipped briefly on the North Korea news, any negative impact on stock markets next week could prove supportive.

US HOUSING EYED

European stocks opened lower on Friday, following a sharp fall in U.S. equities on Thursday and a lower close in Tokyo.

One factor that is weighing on stocks -- but supporting the dollar -- is fading expectations for a near-term cut in U.S. interest rates thanks to recent strong data.

Rates staying higher for longer would boost the dollar's yield appeal, but make companies' borrowing more expensive.

Analysts said the dollar is likely to get another boost if April U.S. existing home sales data on Friday repeats the upside surprise seen in new home sales.

Economists polled by Reuters forecast a 6.14 million annualised unit total, a modest rise from 6.12 million in March.

"We don't believe that the housing downturn is over; however, the data, taken as face value, do support the view that the Fed may feel comfortable leaving the Fed funds rate unchanged for sometime if the housing sector succeeds in turning around with out having caused much collateral impact on other sectors, such as consumer spending," Calyon said in a note.

© 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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