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Tuesday November 20, 2007 - 12:03:59 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar hits record lows vs euro, Swiss franc

Tue Nov 20, 2007 6:58am EST

(corrects euro/yen rate in seventh para to 163)

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The dollar fell to record lows against the euro and the Swiss franc on Tuesday, while the low-yielding yen sold off broadly as strong stock markets heralded a return of risk appetite.

Traders also cited speculation of an imminent U.S. interest rate cut, perhaps later on Tuesday, when the Fed publishes the minutes of its Oct. 30-31 Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting and more detailed and extensive economic forecasts.

The FOMC's next scheduled meeting is on Dec. 11. Adding to dollar weakness was continued speculation that Gulf countries may be preparing to ditch their dollar pegs or at least revalue their currencies.

Japanese stocks reversed earlier losses to close 1.1 percent higher, and European bourses also opened up. This made currency investors a bit more comfortable about putting on risky carry trade bets in high-yielders, which had been unwound on Monday.

"People are looking to buy back into the high yielders, equity markets are looking a bit more optimistic. It's going back into the riskier trades, the dollar is going to be on the downside with that sort of theme," said Jeremy Stretch, currency strategist at Rabobank.

The euro rose as high as $1.4766 according to Reuters data, a fresh all-time peak and up 0.6 percent on the day <EUR=>. It gained 1.35 percent versus the yen, to 163 yen <EURJPY=>.

The dollar fell below 1.1100 Swiss francs to a record low <CHF=>. It was down half a percent against a basket of six major currencies by 0823 GMT at 75.435 (.DXY: Quote, Profile, Research).

"Adding to the short squeeze (in stocks and higher-yielding currencies) were unsubstantiated rumours of an inter-meeting/emergency Fed rate cut today," RBC Capital Markets said in a research note. The U.S. central bank has already lowered its fed funds rate by a total of 75 basis points at its last two meetings to 4.50 percent. Investors had been braced for another cut in December and more to come in 2008 as the Fed tries to prevent troubles in the housing and financial sector from slowing the wider economy.

Goldman Sachs on Monday downgraded Citigroup's (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research) stock to "sell" from "neutral" and forecast more write-downs by the largest U.S. bank due to mortgage losses, underlining the extent of the credit problems in financial markets that threaten to affect the broader U.S. economy and fuel rate cuts speculation.

U.S. housing starts, due at 1330 GMT, are forecast to show an annual pace of 1.170 million units for October, down from September and reflecting continued weakness in the sector.

With the softer economic outlook and prospects for more rate cuts set to weigh on the dollar for some time, countries which are pegged to it are facing problems such as inflation.

A Saudi newspaper quoted an official of the regional economic block as saying Saudi Arabia may be reluctantly considering its first riyal revaluation in two decades.

(for full report double click on [nL20691491])

"When the region is thinking about changing its system and the pressure is building on China, it does seem that the global status quo in terms of the positioning of the dollar is being destabilised. It makes investors nervous and is just another catalyst for dollar selling," said Stretch at Rabobank.

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