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Monday June 18, 2007 - 10:34:37 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Yen hits new low vs euro as risk appetite stays robust

FOREX-Yen hits new low vs euro as risk appetite stays robust
Mon Jun 18, 2007 6:26 AM ET

(Changes byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - The yen hit a record low versus the euro and held near 4-1/2 year troughs against the dollar on Monday, under pressure after the Bank of Japan chief last week all but killed expectations of an interest rate rise in July.

Investors' broad hunt for yield was reflected in the Swiss franc -- also a relatively low-yielding unit among major currencies -- sliding to fresh record lows against the euro too.

The New Zealand dollar stayed firm despite suspected fresh central bank intervention. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand entered the market a week ago to knock the kiwi off 22-year peaks versus the U.S. dollar.

Risk appetite was supported by gains in global equities. In currency markets this boosted demand for carry trade investments funded by borrowing in low-yielders like the yen and Swiss franc.

"The yen is under pressure following non-committal comments from (BOJ Governor) Fukui that disappointed investors looking for a signal that Japanese interest rates are set to rise," said Kamal Sharma, currency strategist at Bank of America.

The euro rose to a fresh record high of 165.63 yen , according to Reuters data, before trimming gains to stand at 165.47 yen at 0950 GMT.

The yen also hit fresh 15-year lows against sterling , 16-year lows versus the Australian dollar and 20-year troughs versus the New Zealand dollar .

At a news conference on Friday after the BOJ held rates at 0.5 percent, governor Toshihiko Fukui said he had no preconceived ideas on whether the BOJ should raise rates in July or at any particular time in the future.

The Swiss franc, which has the second lowest interest rates in the G10, hit a record low of 1.6635 per euro on Monday.

The Swiss National Bank remains on alert due to the weakness of the Swiss franc, SNB Chairman Jean-Pierre Roth said in a newspaper interview on Monday, repeating the message from last week's meeting when the bank raised the cost of borrowing.

Some analysts have speculated that the bank could intervene to strengthen the currency.


The dollar was steady at 123.45 yen , about 20 ticks below 4-1/2 year highs hit on Friday.

The U.S. dollar generally remained on the back foot following softer-than-expected underlying U.S. inflation data on Friday, which cooled nascent expectations of rate hikes.

"The market is reluctant to price in rate hikes given that the (core) CPI numbers came in weaker than expected," Sharma said.

"U.S. bond yields quickly subsided on the back of the weaker inflation data and with housing data unlikely to come through strong, our bias is for the dollar to weaken further."

The euro was slightly firmer at $1.3407 .

With inflation data out of the way, market players will look to figures on U.S. housing starts and building permits due on Tuesday to assess the extent of a downturn in the housing market, a soft spot of the economy.

Monday's calendar is relatively light, featuring speeches from European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and the release of U.S. NAHB housing market index for June. ECB Executive Board member Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo said interest rates remain accommodative and that the bank continues to keep a close watch on inflation.

The New Zealand dollar slipped early on Monday after traders said New Zealand's central bank intervened the second time in a week to sell the local currency.

A RBNZ spokeswoman declined to comment, and the kiwi gradually recovered to trade slightly higher on the day at $0.7550 .

"We continue to expect the RBNZ to lean against exchange rate strength toward the recent intervention levels at 74.00/25 (NZD TWI basis)," BNP Paribas said in a note to clients.

© 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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