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Thursday June 7, 2007 - 11:09:55 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen slips, dollar rises after North Korea report

FOREX-Yen slips, dollar rises after North Korea report
Thu Jun 7, 2007 6:55 AM ET

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

By Simon Falush

LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - The yen slipped against the dollar on Thursday after reports that North Korea fired short-range missiles, triggering broad-based buying of the U.S. currency particularly against European units.

The dollar also gained support from rising U.S. yields, with benchmark 10-year Treasury yields breaking above 5 percent on prospect of higher global interest rates.

In the absence of key U.S. or European data, trading was technically-driven, with investors also looking to the equity markets for direction to gauge risk appetite.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a government official as saying that North Korea fired several short-range missiles off its west coast.

"I think North Korea is being seen as a catalyst (for dollar strength), but realistically, with 10-year yields in the U.S. picking up above 5 percent, the yield spread is also giving the dollar some support," said Jeremy Stretch, strategist at Rabobank.

By 1030 GMT the dollar was up a quarter percent at $1.3469 per euro and 121.36 yen .

The euro erased earlier gains to stand flat on the day at 163.47 yen , having hit a lifetime high of 164.61 on Tuesday.

The dollar was up 0.6 percent at 1.2231 Swiss francs .

Earlier, the Australian dollar hit a fresh 18-year high after firm jobs data, while the New Zealand dollar hit a 22-year post-float high versus the U.S. dollar after the central bank unexpectedly raised interest rates.

The New Zealand dollar rose as high as US$0.7569 , while the Australian dollar strengthened to US$0.8476 , its highest level since February 1989.

RISK APPETITE PERSISTS

Investors are focusing on the performance of equities for indications of how carry trades will perform going forward. A sharp fall in Chinese stocks earlier this year triggered broad-based unwinding of high-yielding currencies and buying of the yen.

Chinese shares ended up three percent on Thursday and European stocks opened higher, snapping a three-day losing streak.

Low Japanese interest rates and strong risk appetite are encouraging investors to buy into carry trades where they borrow the low-yielding yen to fund purchases of higher yielding assets.

Rising Japanese 10-year government bond yields reflected growing concerns over a possible interest rate hike but the market is only pricing in a 10 percent chance that rates will be raised in June and there is only one hike expected by year-end.

Japan's vice finance minister Hideto Fujii said that big rises in interest rates were not good as they could hurt the economy.

"The yen is at very weak levels which is a reflection of global risk appetite. It's the same old story, carry is still in force," said Tom Levinson, FX strategist at ING.

"It's part of a general perception that there's nothing out there to dampen enthusiasm and no one can see anything to derail this."

-- Addional reporting by Toni Vorobyova

© 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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