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Wednesday May 30, 2007 - 11:14:35 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar up vs Europe ahead of FOMC minutes; yen bid

FOREX-Dollar up vs Europe ahead of FOMC minutes; yen bid
Wed May 30, 2007 7:03 AM ET

(Updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, May 30 (Reuters) - The dollar strengthened against major European currencies on Wednesday as investors looked to minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting for further evidence that U.S. interest rates may not be cut this year.

The yen surrendered earlier gains against the dollar but ticked higher against other major currencies after a six-and-a-half-percent fall in Chinese stocks crimped risk appetite and put so-called carry trades under a bit of pressure.

The dip in Chinese stocks initially saw the yen rise across the board as investors scaled back short positions in the yen which were funding carry trades where investors borrow low yielding currencies to fund investments in higher yielding assets.

However, this move was reversed against the dollar as investors turned their focus to the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes and private sector ADP Employment report for May later in the day, which could be seen as an indication of what Friday's official non-farm payrolls report holds.

"There has been dollar strength over the last four weeks as growth expectations have increased," said Naeem Wahid, currency strategist at Halifax Bank of Scotland.

"Consumer confidence is up and investors are looking to jobs data for further dollar strength," Wahid said.

At 1045 GMT the euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.3427 , edging back down toward the six-week low of $1.3410 struck last week.

The dollar was flat against the yen at 121.70 , recouping its earlier mild losses, while the euro was still down 0.1 percent against the Japanese currency at 163.37 yen .

The yen was also up against sterling and the Australian and New Zealand dollars.


U.S. Automatic Data Processing (ADP) employment data at 1215 GMT will give clues as to the state of the labour market ahead of key non-farm payrolls data released on Friday.

Investors are also looking to the release of the FOMC minutes for signs the central bank might hold interest rates steady this year instead of cutting them -- a factor supporting the dollar in recent weeks.

"The dollar is still rather well supported by a change we have seen in interest rate expectations," said Marcus Hettinger, global FX strategist at Credit Suisse in Zurich.

"The minutes will show they have flexibility but are concerned about inflation. We still think they will not cut interest rates."

Fed funds futures are now pricing in a less than 50-50 chance of the Fed cutting rates by a quarter percentage point this year. A month ago, that was fully discounted.

"Tough talk on inflation can be expected despite a round of lower inflation data ahead of the FOMC meeting and a watered down policy directive since March and repeated in May that reduced chances the Fed might raise rates," Societe Generale said in a note to clients.

Euro zone data on Wednesday showed that money supply growth eased in April but stayed near 24 year highs, backing analysts' expectations the European Central Bank will keep raising rates.

M3 money supply growth slowed to 10.4 percent in April from 10.9 percent in March, the fastest growth since 1983.

Expectations for interest rate rises from the current level of 3.75 percent were also supported by comments from ECB Governing Council member Nicholas Garganas.

He told Bloomberg that all options are open on the pace and size of further interest rate rises and said he would not be surprised if euro-zone economic growth in the first half of this year was stronger than expected.

© 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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