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Wednesday November 21, 2007 - 12:44:38 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS-Dlr hits record low as risk-shy investors buy yen

Wed Nov 21, 2007 7:11am EST

(Changes byline, adds quotes, updates prices)

By Simon Falush

LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a record low against the euro and a basket of major currencies on Wednesday and the yen rose sharply as concerns on the health of the U.S. economy and global credit markets saw investors flee risky carry trades.

The yen rose to its highest since June 2005 against the dollar as a tumble in European and Asian shares prompted investors to move into safe-haven, lower yielding assets.

The high yielding Australian dollar fell by more than 2 percent and sterling -- another key destination for carry trades -- touched a 4-1/2 year low against the euro as investors headed for safe-haven assets.

"The driving theme is risk aversion with equities in Asia and Europe down. The dollar is suffering from a fear of a U.S. slowdown which will have an impact on monetary policy," said Niels From, currency strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in Frankfurt.

He added that sharp moves were likely to continue for the rest of the week.

"It's Thanksgiving (on Thursday) and trading volumes will be lower and the fact that there is less liquidity means there will be more volatility ... and this could prove a dangerous cocktail for the rest of the week."

By 1134 GMT, the dollar was down 1.3 percent at 108.52 yen, just above a 108.27 low since June 2005 <JPY=>.

The euro had given up some of its gains to trade down 0.2 percent on the day at $1.4788 <EUR=>, after striking a record high of $1.4856, according to Reuters data.

Besides market expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates further, the dollar has been under pressure from growing speculation that Middle East oil exporters, including Saudi Arabia, may ditch or revalue their dollar pegs.

Oil homed in on $100 a barrel and European equities hit their lowest in three months, with banks such as HSBC and UBS faring particularly badly.

The dollar also hit an all-time low against the Swiss franc at 1.1025 francs while it sank to a record low against a basket of six major currencies at 74.951 (.DXY: Quote, Profile, Research).

GROWTH SLOWING

The Fed projected on Tuesday that U.S. economic growth will slow in 2008 to between 1.8 and 2.5 percent, down sharply from the 2.5 to 2.75 percent forecast in June, before picking up in 2009. [ID:nN20631984]

Minutes of the Fed's October meeting released on Tuesday showed that the central bank's decision to lower interest rates last month was a close call.

But market players still expect it to lower rates further from the current 4.5 percent amid worries about a credit squeeze stemming from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and concerns about the impact on the broader economy.

With the U.S. market quiet in the run-up to the Thanksgiving break analysts are looking to data in the coming weeks for further dollar moves.

"The dollar to remain on the backfoot, especially as we are heading into durable goods, fresh housing data and the ISM index over the next two weeks -- probably new ammunition to sell the dollar aggressively," said Commerzbank in a client note.

"A test of $1.49 seems a matter of time, especially with liquidity fading." (Editing by Ron Askew)

© 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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