FOREX-Euro rises, but debt worries could limit gains
* Euro rises to one-week high vs dollar * Italy bond yields dip but debt auction weak * U.S. jobless claims data cast labor market cloud * Chinese lending data boost growth hopes By Luciana Lopez NEW YORK, April 12 (Reuters) - The euro rose against the dollar and the yen on Thursday as lower Italian bond yields and Chinese lending data buoyed investor optimism even as the still-unresolved euro zone debt crisis clouded long-term views. Italian debt rallied for a second day after a sale produced mixed results, with some investors having anticipated a weaker auction. "The fact the yields have come lower is a very important reflection overall," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital. While the auction results could have been better, if they had disappointed further investors would have demanded a higher return for Italian debt, she added. But Sutton cautioned that the euro zone still faces significant headwinds, particularly around growth. The euro touched a one-week high against the greenback, tracking a second straight session of gains against both the dollar and the yen. The single currency also got a boost as data from the Asia-Pacific region encouraged hopes for global economic growth. Chinese bank lending spiked in March, a sign of fresh traction in Beijing's bid to boost credit creation to support the cooling economy. China is the world's second-biggest economy and a major engine of global growth. In addition, Australian employment surged past expectations in March while the jobless rate stayed low. "There's a small rethink in the market that maybe Asia-Pacific is not as bad as the market thought, that the slowdown there is very temperate," said Boris Schlossberg, director of currency research at GFT Forex in Jersey City. "If Asia-Pacific still continues to expand at a respectable rate, that provides enough support for the risk trade to push the euro back up." The euro rose to a one-week high of $1.3212 against the dollar, bumping up against the 14-day simple moving average, according to Reuters data. The single currency more recently traded at $1.3188, up 0.60 percent on the day. Traders said it extended gains after stop-loss buy orders were triggered on the break of $1.3155-60, forcing players to cut short positions in the common currency. Uncertainty about the euro has fallen as reflected in the options market, with three-month risk reversals in the euro/dollar still biased for euro puts, trading at -2.15 vols on Thursday, improving from -3.5 vols in mid-February. The single currency also gained against the yen, last trading at 106.57 yen, up 0.52 percent. "The market is quietly putting the mini-crisis in the rear-view mirror ... People are looking at putting risk back on in higher-yielding currencies," said Kit Juckes, currency strategist at Societe Generale. However, analysts said the euro's rise was partly the result of volumes remaining thin just after the Easter holiday. They still expect it to drop as concerns remain that the crisis could spread to much bigger economies like Spain or Italy. JOBS DATA WEIGHS ON DOLLAR Demand for the dollar was dampened after U.S. data showed new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since January, raising concerns that the labor market was stalling. The data added to speculation that the Federal Reserve may opt to embark on a third round of asset purchases, called quantitative easing. That would weigh on the dollar as it is tantamount to printing money. "The weaker-than-expected jobless claims numbers reinforce the negative nonfarm payroll number from last month," said Joseph Trevisani, chief market strategist at Worldwide Markets Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. "This will keep the dollar on the defensive as it brings up another stimulus response from the U.S. Federal Reserve." The dollar last traded down 0.06 percent against the yen at 80.81 yen, retreating from a high of 81.13 reached in the overnight session.