FOREX-Dollar near 3-yr low; Swiss franc jumps to record

Fri Apr 29, 2011 7:15am EDT

Related Topics

* Dollar a shade off 3-year lows; Euro, Aussie near highs

* Swiss franc at record high vs dlr, helped by SNB comments

* Trading subdued due to holiday in UK

* Month-end flows seen tilted toward dollar selling

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) - The dollar hovered just above a three-year trough against a basket of currencies and hit a record low versus the Swiss franc on Friday, staying under heavy pressure on expectations U.S. monetary policy will stay loose.

With traders saying trade thinned by a UK holiday was causing exaggerated moves, the franc was buoyed by upbeat comments from the Swiss National Bank's chairman and an above-forecast Swiss sentiment survey.

The euro traded close to a 17-month high of $1.4882, leaving it poised for a test of $1.50, and hit a six-month peak against sterling, buoyed by stronger than expected euro zone inflation data that increased the chance of another ECB interest rate rise sooner rather than later. [ID:nBRLTFE7E0]

The Australian dollar, meanwhile, hovered near a 29-year high against the greenback.

Analysts said month-end flows, though limited, were biased towards dollar selling.

The euro ran into selling interest, however, ahead of Thursday's peak and traders said it could struggle ahead of a reported options barrier at $1.4900.

"It's still a story of general dollar weakness. Markets are pretty thin and there's not a lot of depth to them," said Richard Wiltshire, chief FX broker at ETX Capital.

The euro was up 0.25 percent at $1.4861 EUR=, having hit a high for the day of $1.4878, just below a 17-month peak of $1.4882 hit on Thursday on trading platform EBS.

Resistance was expected at $1.4906, a peak from Dec. 7 2009, ahead of a substantial barrier at $1.5000. Beyond $1.5000, the key target was the 2009 high of $1.5145.

"If the euro can break above a crucial level around $1.5140 then the pattern is constructive for a substantial move higher," said Carl Hammer, currency strategist at SEB in Stockholm.

The dollar index, which tracks its performance against a basket of major currencies, fell 0.3 percent .DXY to hit 72.874, just a shade away from a three-year low of 72.871 plumbed on Thursday.

It is down around 1.5 percent this week, on course for its biggest drop since a 2.5 percent fall in the week to Jan. 16.

The dollar has been sold heavily since the Federal Reserve made clear to markets on Wednesday it was in no hurry to change its ultra-loose monetary policy.

The high-yielding Australian dollar AUD=D4 was up 0.1 percent at $1.0935, near a 29-year peak of $1.0948. Large option barriers around $1.10 could limit gains, however, traders said.

SWISS FRANC GAINS

The Swiss franc rose around 0.8 percent on the day to hit a record high of 0.8653 francs per dollar CHF= on EBS. The euro was down 0.5 percent EURCHF= at 1.2880 francs.

SNB Chairman Philipp Hildebrand said inflationary risks were beginning to emerge in Switzerland due to rising oil and commodity prices, while the economy was growing more vigorously than expected despite the strength of the franc. [ID:nLDE73S0I0]

Switzerland's leading growth barometer, the KOF, also rose unexpectedly in April, data showed. [ID:nZCHSFE787] [ID:nCHKOF]

In other moves, the euro hit a six-month high against sterling EURGBP=D4 of 89.38 pence, with traders citing aggressive clearer buying in thin volume that triggered stop loss orders.

The next target was the October high of 89.41 pence and above there would mark its highest level in more than a year.

Against the yen, the dollar was down 0.2 percent at 81.32 yen JPY=, having matched a one-month low of 81.27 hit earlier this week.

"The signal to sell the USD against JPY is particularly strong, as Japanese equities continued to underperform their global counterparts," analysts at Citi said in a research note, referring to their FX hedge rebalancing model.

(Additional reporting by Ian Chua in Sydney and Asia Forex team; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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