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Tuesday July 10, 2007 - 11:00:57 GMT
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Forex News - Yen stems slide as kiwi falls, dlr on defensive

FOREX-Yen stems slide as kiwi falls, dlr on defensive
Tue Jul 10, 2007 6:38AM EDT

(Changes byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - The low-yielding yen halted its slide against major currencies on Tuesday, while the New Zealand dollar fell as investors pared back bets built up in recent weeks on expectations of divergant interest rates.

The dollar fell to 2-1/2 month lows versus the euro, closing in on record lows hit in April, and traders said activity was skittish before a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on inflation and the Bank of Canada's interest rate decision later in the day.

The drivers were surprisingly weak New Zealand business confidence data and a backup in 10-year Japanese government bond yields toward the 2 percent level before the Bank of Japan's interest rate decision later this week, analysts said.

Investors were seen lightening positions and taking profits until they are given any clearer direction from Bernanke, the BoC or elsewhere.

"The market bias at the moment seems to be that the path of least resistance remains to sell the dollar," Bank of America currency strategist Kamal Sharma said.

Analysts also said investors are speculating on whether the New Zealand dollar had now peaked, having hit successive 22-year post float highs versus the dollar and multi-year peaks against the yen.

"Anything that signals the RBNZ (Reserve Bank of New Zealand) is done (raising rates) may encourage some people to take profits on these positions built up in recent weeks," said Paul Mackel, senior currency strategist at HSBC in London.

"People are also looking at the price action in JGBs and ... there is a little bit of a fear factor (that the BOJ could signal a rate hike next month)," he added.

By 1007 GMT, the dollar was down 0.1 percent on the day at 123.21 yen , while the euro was flat at 168.20 yen , having hit a record high on Monday.

The New Zealand dollar was the day's biggest mover, down 0.7 percent against the yen to 94.90 yen and 0.5 percent down against the dollar at $0.7768 .

BERNANKE ON INFLATION

The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.3650 , having hit a 2-1/2 month high of $1.3662, while the dollar was down a quarter percent versus the Swiss franc at 1.2133 francs.

The greenback was steady against the Canadian dollar at C$1.0486 , not far from the 30-year low below C$1.0450 struck on Monday.

The BoC is widely expected to raise interest rates to 4.5 percent at 1300 GMT and traders will be looking for clues on the future policy.

The expected increase would take Canadian rates to within 75 basis points of U.S. rates and put them 400 basis points higher than BOJ rates and 50 points above the European Central Bank's benchmark lending rate, but still well short of the RBNZ's 8 percent.

While few people expect the BOJ to raise rates on Thursday, many are starting to price in an August increase.

Bernanke's speech at 1700 GMT on inflation is likely to attract most attention in the U.S. session. "I think it will be a reiteration of the recent Fed statement that they still are concerned about elevated core inflationary pressures ... and the Fed is in no hurry to move on rates," Bank of America's Sharma said.

"Also there will probably be questions associated with the subprime mortgage market issue and his take might be that there are no significant contagion impacts of the problems within that sector into the broader U.S. economy."

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