Dollar edges up in pre-Easter profit taking

LONDON - The dollar edged up broadly on Thursday, as investors took profits from oil, gold and other commodity positions, turning their cash into the U.S. currency ahead of the Easter break.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 20 Mar 2008, 3:41 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:20 PM

However analysts said it was too early to call an end to the rout which has taken the dollar to record lows versus the euro, the Swiss franc and a basket of major currencies this week as well as 13-year troughs against the yen.

“After the extreme moves in currencies over the past week and now that we are approaching this long weekend, it’s a good opportunity to take profit if you have some,” said Johan Javeus, FX strategist at SEB in Stockholm.

“But I would see this as a temporary (move) since we expect the Fed will go on cutting. I don’t think we’ve seen the lows for the dollar and I don’t think we’ve seen the low for stock markets. It’s unlikely that this will be the bottoming out for risk aversion,” he added.

By 0820 GMT, the euro was down 0.6 percent of a percent at $1.5544, well off Monday’s record high of $1.5904 but still nearly 7 percent higher than at the end of last year.

The dollar also gained nearly 1 percent to 99.66 yen and rose back above parity versus the Swiss franc to 1.0173 francs.

Gold prices fell to a one-month low of $920.30, on track for its biggest weekly percentage fall since May 2006. Oil and copper prices also retreated.

Watching rates, banks

But with interest rates of just 2.25 percent—the second lowest among major economies—and set to fall further, the U.S. currency remained under pressure versus the high-yielding Australian and New Zealand dollars.

Markets are pricing in an around 80 percent chance of a 50 basis point cut at the Federal Reserve’s April meeting, adding to 200 basis points of easing administered so far this year.

“The Fed has left the door open for further rate cuts, despite their increased level of concern about inflation. The fall in U.S. real yields remains negative for the dollar,” CBA said in a research note.

However it added the next bout of dollar weakness may not come until after March non-farm payrolls on April 4 and the meeting of the Group of Seven major economies on April 11-12.

Worries about the health of the banking sector also remained on investors’ radar after Credit Suisse said it believed it might not have been profitable in the first quarter of 2008, announced valuation reductions for the last quarter of 2007 and said it would restructure some trading operations.

Credit Suisse shares were stopped limit down in the first minutes of trade, while the DJ Stoxx index of European banking shares dropped around 1 percent.

Trading was choppy with Japan closed for the Spring Equinox holiday and as banks and funds scrambled for dollar funding over the long Easter weekend. Most of Europe is shut on Friday and Monday.

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