FOREX-Euro firms on German ZEW data, Fed easing bias

Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:39am EST

Related Topics

* Sharp rise in German sentiment data boosts euro

* Fed to kick off two-day policy meeting on Tuesday

* Italian political worries take a backseat for now

By Anooja Debnath

LONDON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - The euro rose broadly on Tuesday after forecast-beating German data lifted sentiment towards the currency while investors steered clear of the U.S. dollar before a Federal Reserve meeting on monetary policy.

Traders said the euro could make further gains, especially against the dollar, if the Fed signalled more aggressive quantitative easing in the near term.

The euro was up 0.4 percent on the day at $1.2995, having risen from around $1.2960 before the German data was released and breaking chart resistance at $1.2973, the 38.2 percent retracement of a sharp fall between Dec. 5 and Dec. 7.

Traders cited offers above $1.3000 with near-term support at a two-week low of $1.2880 touched on Monday.

Germany's ZEW economic sentiment index jumped to 6.9 in December, far higher than the -12.0 forecast and the previous reading of -15.7.

"The ZEW survey was a significant positive surprise and it helped the euro," said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX research at Commerzbank. "We have seen a spike in the euro but anything significantly above $1.3100 is being ambitious due to a lot of resistance around those levels and will be difficult to hold."

Leuchtmann added that the data would throw into question the European Central Bank's grim economic forecasts for the region and growing expectations of an interest rate cut early next year. The Bundesbank has also slashed its growth forecast for Germany in 2013 and warned the country could tip into recession.

Rate cut expectations, a gloomy economic outlook and political turmoil in Italy combined to push the euro to a two-week low against the dollar on Monday. But it recouped lost ground after technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti said there was no danger of a vacuum before the elections.

"The euro's dip below $1.2900 proved to be short-lived," said Vassili Serebriakov, strategist at BNP Paribas. "FX markets are showing some notable resilience following news of Monti's imminent resignation."

Monti said on Saturday he would resign early after former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi abruptly withdrew support for his technocrat government.

The euro was also 0.3 percent up on the day at 1.2115 Swiss francs, after UBS mirrored Credit Suisse and levied a charge on some Swiss franc cash deposits.

FED IN FOCUS

Investors were reluctant to buy the dollar before a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting starting on Tuesday. The Fed is expected to replace its expiring "Operation Twist" programme with another Treasury bond-buying plan when it announces its decision on Wednesday.

"We anticipate the Fed will announce Treasury purchases and as that depresses yields it will have a negative impact on the dollar and that supports the euro," said Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank.

Many economists believe the Fed will announce monthly bond purchases of $45 billion, although some think it could be more.

The dollar index stood at 80.132, retreating from a two-week high of 80.658 hit on Monday, and just below its 55-day moving average of 80.165.

Expectations of more Fed easing pushed the Canadian dollar to a two-month high of C$0.9862 per U.S. dollar, while the New Zealand dollar hit a nine-month high of $0.8387 .

But the dollar edged up 0.2 percent to 82.50 yen, not far from an eight-month peak of 82.84 hit last month on growing expectations an election on Sunday could result in pressure for of more stimulus from the Bank of Japan.

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