FOREX-Euro steady, scope for gains on U.S. jobs report
* Euro supported as market awaits U.S. jobs data
* Better-than-forecast number could see euro rally
* Long dollar/short yen trades good bet into jobs data
By Nia Williams
LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The euro hovered near a two-week high against the dollar on Friday after the European Central Bank assured investors it was ready to buy bonds to tackle the debt crisis, with further gains dependent on U.S. jobs data later in the day.
A better-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls number, released at 1230 GMT, could soothe concerns about the health of the world's largest economy and fan demand for perceived riskier currencies against the safe haven dollar.
A Reuters consensus forecast showed market players were expecting 113,000 jobs to be added.
"Today if we see a good U.S. number, say above 160,000, that would be bullish for risk and bearish for the dollar," said Daragh Maher, currency strategist at HSBC.
The euro was steady at $1.3015, holding within sight of Thursday's two-week peak of $1.3032. Strategists said the euro could rise further but there was resistance around $1.3172, the September high.
ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday that everything was in place for the central bank to buy the bonds of struggling euro zone countries like Spain and that conditions linked to it need not be punitive.
But Draghi, speaking after the ECB left interest rates unchanged at a record low 0.75 percent, offered no clues as to when Spain might make a formal aid request that would activate the programme.
Market players said traders were wary of selling the euro before any Spanish aid request. If Spain asks for a bailout it would be likely to lift investor appetite to take on risk and boost the euro.
Speculators have been cutting short bets against the euro in the past few weeks with Asian central banks also buying the single currency at lower levels. That has ensured solid support around its 200-day moving average of around $1.2824.
The euro has also been supported by investors buying it back against currencies such as sterling and the Australian dollar, traders said.
The euro slipped 0.1 percent against the Australian dollar to A$1.2695 but remained close to a four-month high of A$1.2718 hit on Thursday.
BOJ STAYS ON HOLD
Some strategists said the best trade to benefit from the U.S. jobs report would be to buy the dollar and sell the Japanese yen.
"Long dollar/short yen would be safest best. If it is a good number, we will see the dollar rally against the yen. And if it is not a good number we would still see the dollar being supported," said Geoff Kendrick, currency analyst at Nomura.
Investors are wary of buying the yen on concerns that the Japanese authorities could intervene to weaken it. Japanese officials have expressed concerns about the strength of the yen in recent weeks.
The yen briefly nudged higher after the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy unchanged and held off from additional easing measures. The reaction was limited, however, as Friday's decision was in line with expectations.
The dollar dipped to an intraday low of 78.28 yen following the BoJ's announcement, but later pared losses to trade at 78.46 yen, flat on the day.
Traders said the dollar would probably find support from buyers at 78.00 yen, while the resistance came in at the 100-day moving average around 78.83 yen.
The euro dipped 0.1 percent against the yen to 102.05 , not far from a two-week high of 102.27 hit earlier in the session. (Additional reporting by Anirban Nag/editing by Chris Pizzey, London MPG Desk, +44 (0)207 542-4441)
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