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Decreasing G7 threat lifts US$

Source: Bloomberg, Dow Jones

Financial Post, Daily edition, Thursday, February 6, 1997

The US$ climbed to a 47-month high against the Japanese yen yesterday amid growing speculation major industrialized nations won't act to halt the rally.

The US$ fell against the German mark and saw its gains trimmed against the yen after the U.S. stock market fell as much as 1.8%.

Finance ministers and central bank heads from the G7 nations are meeting in Berlin Saturday. While some Japanese officials have hinted at opposition to the US$'s strength -- and some Bundesbank officials have said its ascent is nearly over -- the G7 is not expected to call for a halt to the move.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin has repeatedly made clear in the past few weeks that the Clinton administration is sticking to its view that a strong US$ is in the national interest. And some Japanese and German officials have pointed out that a stronger US$ could help their sagging economies by boosting their exports.

``The G7 meeting won't end up with any real action to stop the US$,'' said Matthew Robertson, a bond manager with Neuberger & Berman. ``So the trend is continuing for a higher US$.''

The US$ rose to 123.4 yen in late New York trading from 122.47 yen late Tuesday. Earlier, the US$ reached 123.85 yen, its highest since Feb. 9, 1993.

Robertson said he has been buying US$s for yen since the U.S. currency reached 113 yen in December. ``We got some new money in the past couple days, so I added to the position at 122.25 yen,'' he said. ``You sure can't fight this trend.''

The US$ slipped to 1.6452 marks from 1.6477 marks Tuesday after the U.S. stock decline. ``The stock market just collapsed, and the US$ followed it down,'' said Ben Strauss, a currency trader at Bank Julius Baer.

The mark also benefited from talk that Italy will join the European monetary union at the outset. The union includes plans for a single currency -- the euro -- to be launched in 1999.

The Financial Times reported yesterday that Italy will be offered a deal that would assure its entry in the union, although it would be delayed until 2000 or 2001 under a compromise designed by European Union officials.

In other trade, the British pound soared, helped by Britain's strong economic growth and heavy purchases of British bonds in recent weeks, traders said. The pound rose to US$1.6435 from US$1.6206 and to 2.7046 marks from 2.6705 marks.

The US$ slipped to 1.4241 Swiss francs from 1.429 francs late yesterday in New York and to 5.555 French francs from 5.565 francs.

The C$ closed slightly lower against the US$, after weakening late in North American trading.

The US$ rose to $1.3453 from $1.3442. The C$ fell to US74.33 cents from US74.39 cents.

A senior trader with a foreign bank in Toronto said the C$ slipped late in the day as currency investors watched the stock market fall and bonds lose gains achieved during the day. ``It's the issue people are hanging their hats on,'' he said.

Source: This information is provided by the Financial Post.

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