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Thursday October 25, 2007 - 22:12:19 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar near lifetime low versus euro, rate cut eyed

Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:31pm EDT

(Adds details, updates prices)

By Lucia Mutikani

NEW YORK, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The dollar fell near an all-time low against the euro on Thursday as investors debated the size of an expected Federal Reserve interest rate cut next week after soft economic data pointed to sluggish growth.

Declining U.S. stocks, used by investors as a barometer of risk aversion, also pushed the greenback lower versus the yen.

Analysts said the unexpected fall in orders for long-lasting manufactured goods, the latest in a raft of weak economic reports this month, had sealed the case for further monetary easing at the Fed's Oct. 30-31 policy meeting.

Such a step, coming after last month's half a point reduction in the fed funds rate target to 4.75 percent, would further the diminish the appeal of dollar-denominated assets and undermine the struggling U.S. currency.

"The dollar is suffering because the data has not been that great this morning. The likelihood of a rate cut on October 31 is increasing, giving the dollar yet another disadvantage against other major currencies," said Manfred Wolf, director of foreign exchange at HVB Bank in New York.

"There are few who think it's going to be another 50 (basis points cut), but the majority is for 25 (basis points cut)."

U.S. interest rate futures fully reflect a 25 basis point cut in the Fed's benchmark overnight lending rate, while the chances for a half a point reduction are around 55 percent.

In late New York afternoon trade, the euro was up 0.4 percent at $1.4317 <EUR=>, edging closer to the record peak of $1.4348 hit on Monday, according to Reuters data. It climbed as high as $1.4344 in overseas trade at one point on Thursday, helped by the drop in U.S. durable goods orders.

Analysts saw the euro trading in a $1.4245-$1.4350 range for the remainder of the U.S. trading session. The dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of six major currencies (.DXY: Quote, Profile, Research), fell 0.3 percent to 77.280, inching toward a record trough of 77.093, which was hit on Monday.

The dollar earlier rose against the yen in a knee-jerk reaction to a report showing U.S. new home sales and the median sales price rose in September while the inventory of homes for sale fell. [ID:nN25276370].

But those gains evaporated as stocks surrendered gains and investors decided that revisions to previous months' new home sales figures had masked a general underlying weakness.

"Don't be misled by the superficial improvement in the new home sales between September and August. This is an extremely weak report," said Richard Iley, economist at BNP Paribas in New York.

"The only reasonable conclusions is that September's apparent 'improvement' will likely be revised away over the next two months."

The dollar last traded 0.1 percent down at 114.01 yen <JPY=>, off the day's high of 114.57 yen.

But high-yielding currencies such as the Australian <AUD=> and New Zealand <NZD=> dollars gained despite lingering risk aversion as investors focused on prospects of higher interest rates to curb inflationary pressures in those two countries.

The New Zealand dollar traded 0.8 percent higher against the greenback at US$0.7609, while the Australian dollar firmed 0.6 percent to US$0.9074. The U.S. dollar fell 0.2 percent versus the Canadian dollar to C$0.9659 <CAD=>.

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