U.S. News

Dollar Rises vs. Yen as Markets Stabilize


The dollar rose against the yen for a second straight day Thursday, as traders took advantage of a rebound in U.S. stock markets to adjust positions before Friday's U.S. payrolls report.

Sterling and the euro were higher even as the Bank of England and the European Central Bank left rates on hold at 5.75 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said after the bank's policy meeting that "strong vigilance" was needed to stem inflation risks, signaling a possible September rate hike.

Traders said the respite from the recent sharp swings in financial markets prompted a return to selling low-yielding currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc to buy higher-yielding but riskier assets.

"The trade this week has been simple: if stocks rise, you short the yen; if they fall, you buy back yen," said Gregory Salvaggio, a senior currency trader at Tempus Consulting in Washington. "But the payrolls report tomorrow may break this pattern, making the forex market less dependent on stocks to assess risk."

By afternoon trading, the dollar was up 0.3 percent against the yen at 119.16, recovering from four-month lows the previous day. The euro also rose 0.4 percent to 163.20 yen.

The euro hit session highs earlier around $1.3706 after BundesBank President Axel Weber said fears of a German banking crisis were unfounded following problems at IKB.

In a statement, Weber said problems at IKB, which specializes in lending to small- and mid-sized companies, were of an "institution-specific nature."

IKB has become Europe's most high-profile casualty so far of the crisis in the U.S. subprime mortgage market. Its problems have fueled concerns that other German banks might be in trouble.

"Risk aversion is going to remain high. Because people have lost a lot of money, I don't think they're going to put a lot of risk back into the market," said Rafael Martorell, chief dealer at BNP Paribas, in New York.

Against the Swiss franc , the dollar was little changed at 1.2044 francs.

Last week's sell-off in the stock market and a slide in corporate bond prices over the past few weeks caused hefty losses for some banks and hedge funds.

U.S. equities, one of the more badly hit markets, have found their footing over the last 24 hours and by midday on Thursday were trading higher.

The ECB's Trichet weighed in on the recent volatility in financial markets. He said the central bank was closely monitoring shifts in sentiment and the price movements that were part of a "normalization of pricing risk."

David Powell, senior currency strategist at IDEAglobal in New York, said Trichet did not seem to express concern about the current state of markets.

"To me, his remarks on 'normalization of risk' implies that the current volatility will not affect the ECB's tightening campaign," Powell said.