Sun, May 28, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Greenback firms as investors digest inflation data

AFP AND CNA , NEW YORK AND TAIPEI

The US dollar firmed on Friday as investors pondered the impact of US inflation data and decided to close out positions ahead of a three-day weekend in New York and London.

The euro dipped to US$1.2738 at 9pm GMT against US$1.2804 late on Thursday in New York.

The dollar was meanwhile trading at ?112.65 after ?111.68 on Thursday.

US data showed one measure of inflation last month came to 0.5 percent from March, or 2.9 percent for the year. The core rate, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2 percent, or an annual 2.1 percent.

"Friday's market reaction to the personal income and spending as well as the University of Michigan sentiment announcements was nothing short of breath-taking," said Joel Ward, manager of the Joel Nathan ForexFund.

"The technicals confirm that the dollar has found a short-term bottom," he said.

The consumer sentiment index, an indication of spending plans, inched higher to 79.1 in the final index for this month from the preliminary 79 earlier in the month.

Most currency watchers hold that any dollar rally is likely to prove temporary, given the market's mounting concerns over the US current account deficit -- now about 6 percent of gross domestic product -- and expectations of a narrowing in the yield differential between the US and its major competitors.

The US currency has fallen heavily over the past month or so amid growing concern about global economic imbalances and speculation that US interest rates are near a peak at 5 percent.

Kathy Lien at Forex Capital Markets said it would be "a stretch" to attribute the dollar's gains to the economic data, saying the market is simply positioning and waiting for more news next week.

In late New York trade, the dollar stood 1.2256 Swiss francs after SF1.2171 on Thursday. The pound was traded at US$1.8594 after US$1.8729.

On the London Bullion Market, the price of an ounce of gold slipped to US$642.25 per ounce from US$642.50 late on Thursday.

The US dollar lost ground against the New Taiwan dollar on the Taipei Foreign Exchange on Friday, decreasing NT$0.074 to close at NT$32.038.

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