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Wednesday November 7, 2007 - 13:31:26 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar slides to historic lows, little respite seen

  Wed Nov 7, 2007 7:19am EST

(Changes byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Chloe Fussell

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - The dollar fell on Wednesday to historic lows of $1.47 per euro and $2.10 to the pound on expectations of further U.S. interest rate cuts to limit damage from an ailing housing market.

The dollar slid further after comments from senior Chinese officials stirred concerns about its central bank shifting reserves away from the U.S. currency [ID:nPEK175249].

"The China story is simply an excuse (to sell the dollar)," says Derek Halpenny, senior currency economist at BTM-UFJ. "Really it's the bias of the Fed to continue easing."

The euro surged versus the dollar, on track for its biggest one-day percentage gain this year and sending European stocks down nearly 1 percent.

A Chinese central bank official said the dollar was losing its status as the major global currency [ID:nPEK279109].

"The case for the dollar is a very weak one. Comments from China, despite some backtracking, were perhaps enough to start the rot," said Steve Barrow, currency strategist at Bear Stearns. "The euro in a sense has been a beneficiary of that."

One-month implied euro/dollar volatility <EUR1MO=> reached its highest since the peak of credit problems in August, indicating that the dollar's slide may be approaching disorderly territory.

The euro rose to an all-time high of $1.4703 <EUR=> according to Reuters data, beating equivalent record highs set in deutschemark/dollar, before easing to $1.4679 <EUR=> by 1151 GMT, still up 0.9 percent on the day.


Market participants will look for comment on exchange rates from European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet at his post-interest rate meeting news conference on Thursday.

"Failure from Trichet to show any displeasure with the euro/dollar rally at tomorrow's press conference would most likely be the trigger for a move to $1.50," ING said in a research note.

Analysts said any further weakness in the dollar would prompt growing speculation that central banks may step into the market.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar's value against a basket of major currencies touched a record low of 75.210 (.DXY: Quote, Profile, Research), down around 10 percent since the start of 2007.

The dollar also fell 1.26 percent to 113.27 yen <JPY=>, around two-month lows.

Sterling rose to a fresh 26-year high at $2.1053 <GBP=>, and steadied about the $2.10 mark.

The currencies of natural resource-rich countries such as Australia and Canada were the biggest gainers from a rally in commodities that pushed gold to a 28-year high above $840 an ounce <XAU=> and U.S. crude oil futures to a record high (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday, closing in on $100 a barrel.

The Australian dollar hit a 23-year high after the Reserve Bank of Australia raised rates by 25 basis points to an 11-year high of 6.75 percent and left the door open for more tightening.

The Canadian dollar rose to its modern-day high against the U.S. dollar of 90.61 Canadian cents <CAD=>.

"We believe ... that the market has taken refuge in these currencies given the general desire for credible stores of value at a time of great uncertainty," said Bank of New York Mellon in a note to clients.

The euro was also supported by lingering market expectations for the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut interest rates in December, and for the ECB to keep euro zone rates steady for a while.

U.S. federal funds futures pricing on Tuesday implied a roughly 65 percent chance of a Fed rate cut in December.

The Bank of England and the ECB, both of which will make policy decisions on Thursday, are expected to hold interest rates steady at 5.75 percent and 4.0 percent respectively.

(Additional reporting by Simon Falush, editing by Mike Peacock)

© 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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