FOREX-Dollar hurting post-Fed, Norwegian crown sinks

Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:03am EDT

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(Updates prices)
    * "Carnage" for Norwegian crown after central bank changes
tack
    * Disappointment over Fed message hurts dollar
    * Sterling and euro higher
    * New Zealand dollar hits trade-weighted record high

    By Patrick Graham
    LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - The dollar sank to three-week
lows on Thursday, driven by disappointment over the Federal
Reserve's message on the economy, while an apparent U-turn on
interest rate policy in Norway led to a tumble in its crown
currency.
    The U.S. currency hit its lowest since May 27 against a
basket of currencies in Asian time and its lowest in 10 days
against the euro. Sterling inched up to a new
five-year high of $1.7035, on the verge of levels not seen since
the height of the financial crisis in 2008. 
    But it was the action on the Norwegian crown market that
dominated the European session. It sank to a two-month low in 2
minutes of manic trading after the central bank overturned
expectations of higher interest rates next year, warning that if
anything it might even have to cut borrowing costs.
 
    "A lot of people have been absolutely done by this this
morning and there was nothing they could do," said one
London-based dealer. "It was carnage."
    The crown sank, with the euro jumping 1.5 percent against
the Norwegian currency in high trading volumes, to 8.3230 crowns
from around 8.1772 crowns beforehand. That was the
crown's weakest since late April and put the single currency on
track for its biggest daily rise since mid-September. 
    The central bank's move was prompted mainly by cuts in
planned spending by oil companies for next year but comes as
oil-rich Norway eyes the impact of a week of fighting in Iraq
that has driven oil prices close to $120 a barrel. 
    Josh O'Byrne, a currency strategist with Citi in London,
said he doubted the central bank would be able to be as sanguine
about inflation over the next three years as its forecasts on
Thursday suggested. 
    "In 2016 they now see just one 25 basis point move and then
a second in 2017, adding up to just 50 basis points in some
three years," he said. 
    
    FED DISAPPOINTS
    The crown recovered to 8.3010 per euro but also fell against
the dollar too, hitting four-month lows around 6.10
crowns despite the greenback struggling broadly.
    New projections suggested the Fed saw rates rising more in
2015 and 2016 than it had previously forecast, but officials
lowered their long-term rate target and its overall tone stopped
well short of the hawkish drift some traders had expected.
    That sharpened the divergence in the respective timetables
for the Fed and the Bank of England raising interest rates. The
British bank's officials have spent the past week making clear
there is some risk rates could even rise this year while Janet
Yellen's main emphasis seemed to be a slight decline in
longer-term growth projections.
    "There were those speculating that the Fed would have to
come up with a more hawkish commentary and obviously they have
been disappointed," said Neil Mellor, a strategist with Bank of
New York Mellon in London. 
    "Nothing has really changed from the past few days, so there
will be a propensity to buy some euros, and probably sterling in
lock-step with that."
    U.S. Treasury yields fell, with the benchmark 10-year rate
 dropping to 2.579 percent from the U.S. close of
2.615 percent. 
    The dollar index traded at its lowest since May 27,
down almost 0.4 percent on the day at 80.265. 
        
    CLOUD
    A further rise in oil prices underlined that investors
remain deeply concerned by events in Iraq. The resulting
search for safe havens for their money was underpinning
traditionally safe bets like the yen, dollar and Swiss franc. 
    The franc inched up to a session high of 1.21665 francs per
euro after the Swiss National Bank kept all of its policy
parameters steady. 
    The yen was just over 0.1 percent higher against the dollar
, trading at 101.85 yen versus a one-week high of 102.38
yen before the Fed's announcement. The euro rose 0.2 percent to
$1.3618.
    Commodity currencies fared particularly well against the
dollar after the Fed announcement, with the New Zealand currency
rallying nearly 1 percent to six-week highs of $0.8736.
It was last down 0.1 percent from those highs at $0.8713. On a
trade-weighted basis, the kiwi rose to a record high of
81.30. 

 (Additional reporting by Anirban Nag; Editing by Catherine
Evans)
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