Dlr steady vs euro, sterling down as BoE holds rates

LONDON - The dollar was steady versus the euro Thursday as investors awaited Friday’s US jobs report for fresh impetus, but firmed against sterling after the Bank of England held British interest rates steady at 5.25 percent.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 5 Apr 2007, 6:27 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:03 PM

Speculation over the BoE’s decision had helped sterling to firm this week as a sizeable minority bet on a rate hike.

The decision to keep rates level with those in the United States cooled the pound’s advance, but analysts said any fall could be short-lived as the pound’s yield appeal would come back into focus.

“The pound may have come off on that outcome but it’s probably a good buying opportunity because it’s only a matter of time before rate hike talk comes back onto the market,” said Audrey Childe-Freeman, European economist at CIBC World Markets.

The dollar was seen trading in fairly narrow ranges against major rivals, having come under pressure on Wednesday after data showed US service sector growth slowed to a four-year low in March, backing a view that US interest rates could be cut later this year.

The non-farm payrolls data on Friday should provide more clues on whether the Federal Reserve will lower rates from the current 5.25 percent to support the economy.

“Without doubt when you look at the (US) numbers over the last few months, employment is slowing although not dramatically so,” Mellon Bank head of currency research Ian Gunner said.

“There’s always a risk of a rogue number on that and I guess if it was a weak one it would come at a bad time given that other releases are softening up a little,” he added.

The US economy is expected to have added 120,000 jobs in March, up from 97,000 in February.

By 1152 GMT, the dollar stood at 118.80 yen JPY, pulling back from Wednesday’s five-week high of 119.08 yen.

The euro was at $1.3361, flat on the day and up 0.1 percent at 158.83 yen, hovering within reach of a five-week high touched in the previous session.

The Canadian dollar was the day’s biggest mover, gaining half a percent against the US dollar after data showing Canada’s economy added 54,900 jobs in March -- way above consensus CAD.

Sterling to mimic Aussie?

Sterling was 0.3 percent weaker at $1.9701 after the BoE decision. Economists polled by Reuters last week gave a median 25 percent chance of an April rate rise, but speculation had grown on the chances of a hike as markets priced in a fair chance of a move.

Analysts said that the high likelihood of a May hike could see the pound bounce back in a similar fashion to the Australian dollar.

The Aussie got a knock on Wednesday after the Reserve Bank of Australia left rates on hold, disappointing strong minority expectations of a hike. But the currency quickly recovered thanks to already high rates of 6.25 percent and the likelihood that the RBA will hike in coming months.

On Thursday, the Aussie rose above US$0.8210, its highest in more than a decade, and soared to a 10-year high against the yen around 97.46 yen.

“We expect any (sterling) correction to be short-lived, as was the case for the Australian dollar on Wednesday, especially in light of the likelihood of a hike next month,” JP Morgan said in a research note.

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