Dollar climbs, commodities down on Fed action

 @ibtimes
on February 18 2010 9:16 PM

The U.S. dollar rose to a 9-month high against the euro and commodity prices dropped on Friday after the Federal Reserve lifted an emergency lending rate for the first time since the financial crisis.

U.S. stock futures fell 1 percent after the Fed action, which investors said arrived sooner than anticipated and moved the central bank one step closer to lifting benchmark lending rates.

The Fed's move to hike the discount rate by 25 basis points this morning has set the cat amongst the pigeons. Although the move was signaled in the FOMC minutes yesterday a hike in the discount rate was not expected to happen so soon, Mitul Kotecha, global head of foreign exchange strategy with Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong, said in a note.

Asian equities were relatively steady, with exporter stocks supported by weaker domestic currencies. Financial shares were performing broadly in line with the market, while resource-related stocks underperformed.

* The euro falls 0.4 percent to $1.3480 and has dropped around 16 cents in the last two months. Earlier the euro weakened to $1.3442, the lowest since May 18.

* Sterling drops 0.6 percent to $1.5450, also a 9-month low, as investors punished currencies with relatively poorer growth prospects compared with the dollar.

* The yield on the 2-year U.S. Treasury note, which is sensitive to policy rates, rose in choppy trade to a 1-month high of 0.9683 percent before settling back at 0.9561 percent.

* The spread of the benchmark 10-year yield over 2-year yields narrowed 5 basis points to 282 basis points, though remains not too far from historic steepness at 288 basis points.

* March U.S. crude futures were down 1 percent to $78.23 a barrel, hurt by dollar strength that rocked commodities across the board.

* Gold in the spot market was down 0.4 percent at $1,106.90 an ounce and has declined 6.1 percent since December.

* Japan's Nikkei share average <.N225> was nearly flat on the day, with gains in exporters Canon Inc <7751.T> offset by weakness in some technology-related stocks.

* The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan was down 0.3 percent <.MIAPJ0000PUS>, led by the materials sector.

(Editing by Sugita Katyal)

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