Dollar Closes Mixed, But Little Changed Against Rivals

By Jamie McGeever 
27 August 2003

Dow Jones Business News  - English
(Copyright (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

Dow Jones Newswires


NEW YORK -- Lifted by a wave of buying against the yen following verbal intervention from Japanese government officials overnight in Tokyo, the euro ended New York trading slightly stronger across the board Wednesday.


The rise against the yen also supported the dollar against the Japanese currency, although the greenback was mixed against other rivals in a relatively quiet session devoid of major economic-indicator releases. And with the U.S. Labor Day holiday on Monday approaching, currencies are expected to stay within narrow ranges.


"This sideways consolidation should continue for a while to come," said Andrew Chaveriat, a technical analyst at BNP Paribas in New York. The lackadaisical nature of the market was reflected in its lack of reaction to a 2% surge in the gold price to a three-month high of $373.80 a troy ounce.


Late Wednesday, the euro was trading around $1.0880, off its session high of $1.0927 but up from $1.0873 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar was at 117.45 yen, up from 117.29 yen. Sterling was trading at $1.5715, up a little from $1.5700 late Tuesday.

The euro's performance was a direct result of comments made overnight by Japan's top currency bureaucrat, Zembei Mizoguchi, who signaled the government is uncomfortable with the yen's sharp appreciation versus the single currency.


"Much too rapid moves are undesirable," said Mr. Mizoguchi, Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs, in a veiled reference to the yen's 8% rise against the euro this month alone. He added, "We watch the market very closely and take various measures" based on market moves.


That prompted investors to cover short euro and long yen positions, pushing the euro two yen higher during European trading than the five-month low of 126.65 yen hit Tuesday. The euro stood at 127.80 yen late Wednesday.


The other big market mover catching the attention of currency traders was the surge in gold. The yellow metal rallied as much as $10 on the day to a fresh three-month high. Institutional hedge funds, bullion banks, Commodity Trading Advisors and speculators piled in after it broke key technical resistance at $367 an ounce, dealers said.


"A break above the psychological $400 mark could incite further unrest in both stock and bond markets, unleashing a wave of selling that could spoil chances of a sustainable [economic] recovery," wrote Jes Black, a currency analyst at MG Financial, in a note to clients.


"If gold were to rise above $400 an ounce, it could spur more investors to recognize commodities as an alternative investment class," he noted. "This could lead to a positive feedback loop, driving inflation higher, bond prices lower (yields higher) and further squeeze U.S. profit margins."


Some analysts think the gold rally could also spell trouble for the dollar. Gold, priced in dollars, is traditionally strong in periods of dollar weakness, as it becomes cheaper on international markets, although lately that correlation hasn't been holding up. "If gold stays well bid, I'd imagine that might be a little bit dollar-bearish .. .but it would take a very aggressive move [up in gold] to have an impact on the foreign-exchange market," said Greg Anderson, currency strategist at ABN Amro in Chicago.


Josh Levy, president of Foreign Exchange Derivatives brokerage CMC Group, said foreign-exchange dealers will now be looking at the impact of gold's strength on currencies such as the Australian and Canadian dollars and South African rand. Those countries are big producers of gold.


So far, the rally doesn't seem to have spurred any significant movement. In fact, the Australian dollar hit a 3 1/2-month low against its U.S. counterpart Wednesday, while the South African rand was unchanged on the day.


-By Jamie McGeever; Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-2096;

(END) Dow Jones Newswires


08-27-03 1642ET

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