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FOREX-Dollar off 2-week high, but seen on solid footing
June 21, 2013 / 6:17 AM / 4 years ago

FOREX-Dollar off 2-week high, but seen on solid footing

* USD gains from huge unwind in emerging mkt, commodities

* Yen, Swiss franc may gain on more emerging mkt turbulence

* Eyes on Asian FX, shares after falls on Wall St, Europe

* Mkt anxiously watches PBOC clampdown in China money mkts

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, June 21 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar stepped back from a two-week high against a basket of developed world currencies but is seen on solid footing on expectations of an eventual end to super-easy U.S. monetary policy.

There are big concerns, however, that higher U.S. interest rates could prompt a mass migration out of emerging markets. If that trend intensifies, it could favour traditional safe-haven currencies such as the yen and the Swiss franc, market players said.

“It’s become clear the Fed is heading for an exit from stimulus. The era of ‘Bernanke puts’ is over. Those who are doing dollar-carry trades and buying emerging market assets have to unwind their positions,” said Mitsuru Saito, chief economist at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

Against a basket of major currencies the dollar was off a shade at 81.767, below Thursday’s two-week high of 82.145, though it was still up 1.7 percent for the week.

The euro was holding steady at $1.3234, having backtracked form Wednesday’s four-month peak of $1.3414.

The dollar gained 0.6 percent against the yen to 97.82 yen in choppy trade, edging near its 98.29 yen top hit on Thursday, as Japanese share prices rebounded.

REPATRIATION?

Yet, most other regional shares were soft and Asian currencies remained under pressure, keeping the focus on emerging markets, where investors are bailing out of once popular positions and repatriating the funds.

“The normalisation of Fed policy, combined with weaker commodity prices and a declining growth differential between the emerging and developed world, makes for a challenging backdrop for EM in the months ahead,” said analysts from Barclays.

When investors unwind emerging market positions the most liquid cross is into the U.S. dollar, a major reason it has shot up against currencies from Brazil, to Turkey, South Africa, Poland and Mexico.

But many of those investors are from Europe, the UK or Japan and they then exchange those dollars for euros or pounds or yen, limiting the dollar’s advance.

That also suggests these currencies could be driven by unwinding of existing positions, rather than fresh bets based on economic fundamentals, making their trading unpredictable.

“Price adjustments in emerging markets are quite outstanding. The markets may trade on this theme for now, perhaps until early next month,” said Takako Masai, forex manager at Shinsei Bank.

“My guess is the dollar/yen won’t have a convincing trend for the time being. It will be stuck in 95-100 range,” she added.

Asian currencies have also been spooked by disappointing data out of China and an ongoing clampdown on liquidity by the central bank there.

That in turn has added to fears of slower global growth which, when combined with a rising U.S. dollar, is poison for commodity prices and currencies leveraged to them.

“Brazil and Turkey are hit by street protests. Asian growth seems to be slowing. At the moment, I can’t see why money should return to emerging markets,” said a trader at a U.S. bank.

Turmoil in Chinese money markets also continued, but fears of a broader banking crisis eased on speculation the central bank had quietly added funds to the market.

That helped to lift the Australian dollar from a 33-month low hit on Thursday, though the currency was still headed for its worst week in more than a year.

The Australian dollar rose 0.3 percent from late U.S. levels to $0.9235, after having sunk to $0.9163 on Thursday.

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