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Tuesday September 25, 2007 - 10:20:49 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar steadies off lows ahead of U.S. data

FOREX-Dollar steadies off lows ahead of U.S. data

Tue Sep 25, 2007 6:12am EDT

(Updates prices, adds quote, changes byline)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The dollar steadied above the previous day's 15-year troughs against a basket of currencies on Tuesday, as investors awaited U.S. data to determine how deeply the global credit crunch has affected the economy.

The dollar made particular gains against sterling after a report in a British newspaper sparked worries over troubles in the UK financial sector arising from the credit crisis.

Investors will be looking to U.S. existing home sales and consumer confidence reports later in the session and analysts say weakness in these numbers could push the Federal Reserve to follow last week's half-percentage-point interest rate cut with more policy easing.

That should further erode the dollar's yield advantage over other currencies, particularly the euro, and could spark a fresh sell off in the U.S. currency.

"The risk remains to the downside for the dollar and it's just a matter of time before we test the all-time low in the dollar index," said Niels From, currency strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in Frankfurt.

"(Today's data) could confirm market fears that the cooling housing market is starting to hit consumer confidence and therefore U.S. consumer spending," he added.

By 0942 GMT, the dollar's trade-weighted index against six major currencies was steady at 78.569 (.DXY: Quote, Profile, Research), off a 15-year low of 78.310 hit on Monday. The index hit the all-time low of 78.190 in 1992, a level analysts said would provide a test of whether the dollar decline deepens or pauses.

The euro was steady at $1.4095 <EUR=> after striking a record high of $1.4130 the previous session, according to Reuters data.


Sterling fell 0.7 percent against the yen to 230.75 yen <GBPJPY=> and 0.5 percent versus the dollar to $2.0115 <GBP=>.

Investors sold the pound after the Independent reported on Tuesday that Britain's deposit protection scheme holds only 4.4 million pounds ($8.9 million) to protect the country's bank deposits, far smaller than the $49 billion fund at the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The news raised worries over the stability of the British financial system after depositors and fuelled broad risk aversion. This prompted investors to cut back on carry trades, in which a low-yielding currency like the yen is used to fund investment in high-yielders like the New Zealand dollar.

The New Zealand dollar fell 1.5 percent against the yen to 84.44 yen <NZDJPY=>. The U.S. currency was down 0.1 percent against the yen at 114.70 yen <JPY=>, dragged down by the yen's rise against sterling and other high-yielding currencies.

The euro was also a touch weaker, at 161.65 yen <EURJPY=>, showing little reaction after the German Ifo business confidence report for September came in slightly weaker than expected.

U.S. consumer confidence data for September is due at 1400 GMT, with the index expected to ease to 104.0 from 105.0.

Existing home sales, due at the same time, are seen falling to 5.49 million in August from 5.75 million the previous month.

"Any weakness in either the existing home sales report or the consumer confidence reading will not only mean renewed pressure on the dollar, but a significant downside surprise could also trigger some risk aversion given that the U.S. housing market has been the focal point of the recent financial market turbulence," Societe Generale said in a note to clients.

The July Case-Shiller home price index -- seen by economists as one of the most accurate measures of activity in the sector, albeit one published with a big delay -- is due at 1300 GMT.

© 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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