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Monday July 9, 2007 - 20:46:09 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar flat but sentiment negative on Fed view

FOREX-Dollar flat but sentiment negative on Fed view
Mon Jul 9, 2007 4:32 PM ET

(Updates prices)

By Kevin Plumberg

NEW YORK, July 9 (Reuters) - The dollar was mostly flat on Monday in a quiet session but expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates unchanged this year while other central banks tighten monetary policy kept sentiment negative.

Analysts said Friday's surprisingly robust U.S. jobs report was not enough to reverse the recent trend of a narrowing of the interest rate advantage for the dollar over major European currencies, which has eroded demand for the greenback.

High oil prices and steady economic growth are expected to keep the European Central Bank on a tightening path, although the Bank of Japan will likely lag all other Group of Seven central banks bar the Fed, even if it does hike rates from 0.5 percent some time this year.

"The dollar remains biased to the downside as a result of the outlook that U.S. interest rates will remain steady for the remainder of this year, which contrasts with rate hike expectations in Canada, the euro zone, UK and Japan," said Omer Esiner, foreign exchange market analyst with Ruesch International in Washington.

The dollar index was up 0.05 percent on the day at 81.461 <.DXY>. Last week Thursday the index fell to a 2-1/2-year low of 81.242. The euro was flat at $1.3621 , within striking distance of its record peak above $1.3680 struck in April.

Sterling rose 0.2 percent to $2.0147 .

"We're continuing to consolidate here. As long as the euro stays above $1.36 and sterling above $2.01, that should bode well for a push higher. We'll probably test the highs in the euro this week above $1.3680," said Jake Lee, foreign exchange dealer at Union Bank of California in Los Angeles.

Right now investors buying a 2-year U.S. Treasury note would theoretically get 44 basis points more yield than if they purchased euro zone government debt with the same maturity. Three weeks ago the spread was more than 60 basis points in the dollar's favor.

Speculators last week increased their net short dollar position, essentially bets the dollar will weaken, to a seven-week high of $17.1 billion from $10.3 billion in the prior week, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The U.S. dollar's sluggishness on Monday was most apparent against the Canadian dollar , which hit a 30-year peak against the greenback around C$1.0445 on widespread expectations the Bank of Canada will raise rates a quarter point to 4.5 percent on Tuesday. The U.S. dollar fought back to C$1.0495, roughly unchanged on the day.

Because there is hardly any U.S. economic data this week, the Bank of Canada decision and statement could take on more significance for currency markets than it otherwise might.

"Incoming (Canadian) data have recently strengthened the case for tightening," said CitiFX in its latest research note.

"Both headline and core inflation remain above target, labor markets are firm and the fundamentals appear to be in place for faster expansion, against a backdrop of elevated commodity prices," the bank added.

The dollar was flat against the yen at 123.33 yen . The euro rose to a record peak against the yen at 168.55 yen, according to electronic platform EBS, before trading back down to 168.06.

Investors' appetite for carry trades -- borrowing in a low-yielding currency to finance purchases of higher-yielding units -- is likely to prevent a strong rebound in the yen, analysts say.

© 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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