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Friday September 7, 2007 - 10:20:17 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dlr steady, yen edges up ahead of key U.S. jobs data

  FOREX-Dlr steady, yen edges up ahead of key U.S. jobs data
Fri Sep 7, 2007 6:05AM EDT

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered near a one-month low against a basket of major currencies on Friday as investors looked to U.S. jobs data, due later, for signs about whether the subprime mortgage crisis is hurting the real economy.

The yen edged up slightly and higher-yielding currencies slipped as some regional stock markets dipped and kept investors wary of holding risky positions, with Asian and European stocks moving lower.

Risk appetite has also been dulled in the past two days by comments by policymakers in the United States, euro zone, Britain and Norway who have expressed concerns about how the market turmoil may affect their economies.

Many investors were sitting on the sidelines before the August U.S. payrolls data at 1230 GMT. Any signs of weakness would reinforce expectations for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by as much as a half-point this month.

Economists expect companies to have added 110,000 jobs outside the agricultural sector in August, up from 92,000 in July, while the unemployment rate is seen holding at 4.6 percent.

"There's a lot of nervousness around and people are waiting for the (payroll) figures to see if market turbulence from the credit crisis is affecting the real economy," said Jonas Ahlander, chief foreign exchange strategist at SEB Merchant Banking in Stockholm.

The dollar traded at 80.460 against a basket of six major currencies (.DXY: Quote, Profile, Research), near a one-month low of 80.364 set the previous day. The euro was steady to $1.3684 <EUR=>.

The yen, which tends to do well at times of risk aversion, added around 0.2 percent against both the euro and the dollar, to trade at 157.56 <EURJPY=> and 115.17 <JPY=>, respectively.

Reports this week showing a tepid labour market -- including the Institute for Supply Management's index of service sector employment hitting a nearly five-year low in August -- have stoked expectations for even softer jobs growth.

"A weak number would increase the likelihood of an interest rate cut from the Fed and lead to further yen strength and weakness from high yielders," said SEB's Ahlander.


Sterling <GBP=> remained on the back foot after falling on Thursday when the Bank of England broke with tradition and issued a statement despite leaving rates unchanged at 5.75 percent.

Investors took the fact that the bank felt it needed to comment on the recent turmoil in financial markets as a dovish sign, even though policymakers stressed inflationary concerns.

The European Central Bank also left rates on hold as expected on Thursday, at 4 percent, and said it needed to see how the recent market crunch plays out before deciding on policy further out.

The Norwegian central bank surprised markets on Friday by saying that the impact of market uncertainty on global growth may affect its own economic projections.

The Norwegian crown fell sharply on the comments <NOK=>.

One stand-out from the cautious tone was the Swedish central bank, which raised rates as expected to 3.75 percent on Friday and said that although market developments may have some negative consequences for Sweden, it was sticking to the interest rate trajectory announced in June.

Analysts expect further rate increases from the Riksbank.

"As long as the financial market unrest is not really impacting on domestic growth the bank will continue to hike rates," said Calyon in a note to clients. "That means another hike this year, taking the repo rate to 4 percent."

The Swedish crown rallied to three-week highs at 9.3048 per euro <EURSEK=>.

© Reuters 2006. 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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