FOREX-Dollar may struggle as ECB, Fed policies diverge

* Euro up vs US dollar as hawkish ECB trumps dovish Fed

* Dollar at a more than 6-month high against the yen

* Investors clamor for carry trade on yield differentials
(Adds comment, detail, updates prices)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) – The addition of more than
200,000 U.S. jobs wasn’t enough to boost the dollar against the
euro on Friday, and the greenback may have more losses in store
as markets brace for a euro zone interest rate hike next week.

The employment report, which also showed the U.S. jobless
rate slipping to 8.8 percent last month, did push the dollar
above 84 yen, its highest in more than six months, as traders
expect Japanese interest rates to stay at a record low.

For more on the data, see [ID:NOAT00477]

New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley upended a
dollar rally against the euro, though, when he said he saw no
reason to adjust the central bank’s loose monetary policy
despite the encouraging jobs data.[ID:N01172677]

The European Central Bank, on the other hand, is expected
to raise rates next week, the first of what some predict will
be several rate increases scattered throughout the year.

“The market is finally realizing that the euro can thrive
and interest rates can rise even with problems in peripheral
countries,” said Axel Merk, president and chief investment
officer of Merk Investments in Palo Alto, California.

The euro rose 0.5 percent to $1.4231 (EUR=: Quote, Profile, Research), well off a
$1.4059 low. Traders said stop-loss orders around $1.4060 led
to some euro buying.

The currency rose some 6 percent in the 27 days from its
low of $1.3428 on Feb. 14 to $1.4249 last week, the 2011 high.
Traders said a break of that could prompt a run at $1.4283, the
Nov. 4 peak.

A bank stress test this week indicated Irish banks need
another 24 billion euros to plug potential losses, but neither
that revelation nor trouble in similarly indebted Portugal has
been enough to push the euro below $1.40 in recent weeks.

Merk, who oversees $600 million in assets, said a move to
$1.50 in coming months was likely, partly because the Fed is
nowhere near ready to start tightening U.S. monetary policy.

Even if the Fed ends its $600 billion bond-buying program in
June as planned, “that isn’t an exit from easy policy, it’s a
pause,” Merk said. “The banking system is still awash in
liquidity, and they’re not mopping it up. Dudley said there was
no need to change anything.”


Japanese policymakers are not likely to lift interest rates
any time soon, either, and that helped both the dollar and euro
jump against the yen.

The greenback was up 1.2 percent at 84.15 (JPY=: Quote, Profile, Research), on pace
for its biggest weekly gain since December 2009. The
greenback’s break of its 200-day moving average for the first
time since last June helped accelerate gains.

The euro (EURJPY=: Quote, Profile, Research) hit an 11-month high at 119.79 before
easing to 119.60, up 1.5 percent. strategist Brian Dolan said dollar/yen resistance
lies in the 84.80-85.00 range, “but we’ve had a nice run-up and
if we get above 85, we’ll be set up for a rapid move higher.”


Graphic –


The Bank of Japan is widely expected to lag behind the
Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank in raising
interest rates, especially after the March 11 earthquake.

Analysts said that will enhance yen “carry trades,” which
involve borrowing yen cheaply to finance more lucrative trades
in higher-yielding currencies and assets.

The carry trade has “come back with a vengeance,” said
Boris Schlossberg, director of research at GFT Forex, and the
yen may assume its former status as funding currency of choice
as rates in other Group of 20 economies start to rise.

Data Friday showed speculators cut dramatically positions
in favor of the yen in the week to March 29. [ID:nN01135835]

(Additional reporting by Julie Haviv, Nick Olivari and
Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Padraic Cassidy and Diane

FOREX-Dollar may struggle as ECB, Fed policies diverge