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Traders ask how low can the dollar go

FT.com | July 24, 2007
Michael Mackenzie

How long before the dollar hits $1.40 to the euro? That is the question many analysts are asking after a week when the US currency struck a new low of $1.3843 to the euro and fresh multiyear lows against a range of currencies, including sterling.

The US currency has fallen 4.5 per cent against the euro this year and 4 per cent against sterling, hitting a new 26-year nadir against the pound last week. The trade-weighted dollar index dropped to its lowest since 1992.

The dollar exchange rate is important because the US relies on hefty foreign purchases of securities and other assets to fund its current account deficit.

“At some point, the fall in the dollar will translate into foreign investors no longer buying US assets and selling their existing holdings,” said William Strazzullo, chief market strategist at BellCurve Trading.

“We expect euro/dollar to appreciate to $1.42 by the end of the quarter and sterling/dollar to to move to $2.10 as investors reduce their dollar-denominated exposure,” said Hans Redeker at BNP Paribas.

The beleaguered US currency was hardly helped by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke last week. Questioned by Congress, he pointedly declined any chance to say the dollar was undervalued.

“[Predecessor Alan] Greenspan would at least say something about the dollar, showing he cared, which is something that many thought was absent in Bernanke's empty response on the dollar,” said Tony Crescenzi, strategist at Miller Tabak & Co.

Mr Bernanke may have been guided by the idea “talking about the dollar is one of those things best left untouched”, said Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist at RBS Greenwich Capital.

Official silence on the dollar's woes also extends to Hank Paulson, US Treasury secretary. “You get the sense the administration wants a weaker dollar,” said Mr Strazzullo.

A US economy growing more slowly than global rivals and interest rates rising outside the US while domestic rates remain on hold explain much of the dollar's weakness. The greenback is also suffering anxiety over US credit and mortgage markets.

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