FOREX-Euro hits 1-mth peak after Moody's affirms Spain rating

Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:08am EDT

Related Topics

* Euro posts one-month highs versus dollar and yen

* Moody's keeps Spain credit rating in investment grade

* Spanish bond sale next in focus

By Masayuki Kitano and Ian Chua

SINGAPORE/SYDNEY, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The euro hit a one-month high against the dollar on Wednesday after Moody's affirmed Spain's investment grade rating, assuaging widespread fears of a downgrade to junk status for the euro zone country.

Moody's action removed the most immediate risk to Spain ahead of its bond auctions due on Thursday.

The euro rose to $1.3125, its highest level since mid-September, but traders were cautious about the single currency's near-term outlook, with some saying it may stay stuck in range trading for now.

The euro was last up 0.3 percent from late U.S. trade at $1.3092.

"You have to wonder whether it makes sense to buy the euro based just on this," said Hiroshi Maeba, head of FX trading Japan for UBS in Tokyo, referring to Moody's decision to keep Spain at Baa3, one notch above junk status.

"I think the euro in the end will stay in a $1.28 to $1.32 range, I don't think you can get too optimistic at this point," he added.

The single currency has been supported in recent weeks by hopes that Spain will eventually request a bailout, a move that would open the way for the European Central Bank to buy Spanish debt and help lower Madrid's borrowing costs.

The exact timing of such an aid request, however, remains unclear.

The euro is likely to face firm resistance near $1.3173 ahead of a forthcoming European summit, said Callum Henderson, global head of FX research for Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, referring to the euro's four-month high set in September.

"Our expectation is...that the European summit yet again will be a disappointment and then it will go back down," he said, adding that Spain seemed unlikely to make a formal aid request at the summit. European leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

Investors had bought the euro the previous day on hopes Spain may be close to seeking a bailout and following a survey showing German analyst and investor sentiment had risen for a second month in a row in October.

Traders cited a Bloomberg report about two German lawmakers saying Germany is "open to Spain seeking a precautionary credit line from Europe's rescue fund" as positive for the euro.

However, a senior German lawmaker said the report had "over-interpreted" comments he made on the issue and he had not been referring to Spain.

Helped by such factors and the Moody's announcement, the euro touched a one-month high against the yen at 103.51 yen earlier on Wednesday.

The single currency later trimmed its gains and changed hands at 103.01 yen, little changed on the day.

The yen has been held back recently by speculation about the potential for further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan, which holds its next policy meeting on Oct. 30.

Market speculation about the potential for dollar-buying flows related to Japanese mobile operator Softbank Corp's $20 billion deal to buy U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Nextel Corp, has also weighed on the yen in recent sessions.

The dollar dipped 0.3 percent to 78.68 yen, retreating from the previous day's one-month high of 78.97 yen.

The market now seems to be long the dollar, and such positioning may weigh on the greenback since those bets could be unwound at some point, traders said.

"There has been a build up of (long dollar) positions and the dollar will probably stay heavy at levels near 79.00 yen at least for the time being," said a trader for a major Japanese bank in Singapore.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.