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Thursday November 22, 2007 - 12:06:11 GMT
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FOREXEWS-Dlr sets fresh record lows vs euro, Swiss franc

Thu Nov 22, 2007 6:53am EST

(Changes byline, updates prices, adds quotes)

By Meg Clothier

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The dollar hit new record lows against the euro, the Swiss franc and a basket of currencies on Thursday amid a growing belief that the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut interest rates again next month.

Adding to downward pressure on the dollar was a recovery in equity markets and a slight pick up in risk appetite which made investors more willing to put on riskier trades in high-yielding or emerging market currencies.

The more risk-friendly mood also hit the yen, a favourite source of cheap funding for the carry trades. The Japanese currency eased from the previous day's 2-1/2 year peaks versus the dollar, while high-yielding Australia and New Zealand units -- top carry targets -- gained broadly.

With the United States marking the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and Japan shut on Friday, volumes were likely to remain subdued into the end of the week, potentially exacerbating market volatility.

"Overall the picture is still very much skewed towards a weaker dollar, although the dollar's performance is likely to be far more mixed going forwards because we believe the high-yielders are going to come under further pressure," said Ian Stannard, senior foreign exchange strategist at BNP Paribas.

"We could see a little bit of a pull-back in the euro/dollar, a dip below $1.48, maybe heading into the $1.4750/$1.4725 area, but from there I'd be looking for euro/dollar to rebound, heading up towards $1.50," he added.

The euro hit a record high of $1.4873, according to Reuters data on Thursday, bringing its year-to-date gains to around 12.5 percent. It also set fresh all-time highs against the ECB's trade-weighted basket of 24 currencies at 111.77 <EUREER=ECBF>.

So far European policymakers and politicians have been less vocal about the euro's rise than they were during its 2004 rally, in part because economic growth has held up.

Germany's export industry could cope with euro at $1.50, the head of BGA exporters' group was quoted as saying on Thursday.

But the chief executive of Daimler (DAIGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) said the German car and truck maker would have to boost productivity even further to offset FX developments.

The dollar fell to a new record low of 1.1006 Swiss francs <CHF=> before recovering a little to trade at 1.1031 francs by 1116 GMT.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar's value against a basket of major currencies, hit a record low of 74.916 (.DXY: Quote, Profile, Research).

GO SLOW

Expectations for further U.S. rate cuts were reinforced on Tuesday by the Fed's projection that economic growth will slow next year, even though the central bank adopted a reasonably hawkish tone and said that October's cut was a "close call".

U.S. short-term interest rate futures are pricing in a 25 basis point Fed cut to 4.25 percent on December 11 and are even giving a small chance of a 50 basis point move.

However, the dollar gained against the yen to 108.67 yen <JPY=>, pulling away from the 2-1/2 year low of 108.23 yen hit on Wednesday, according to Reuters data .

But some economists believe this could prove short-lived.

"Fundamentally the outlook favours further yen appreciation, given narrowing yield differentials and the likely persistence of volatile market conditions," BTM-UFJ wrote in a client note.

Both factors would reduce the attractiveness of the carry trade, where investors sell the low-yielding yen to fund higher-yielding investments, leading BTM-UFJ to target 105 yen.

(Additional reporting by Toni Vorobyova)

© 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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