FOREX-Euro gains short-lived, Italian elections weigh

Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:29am EST

Related Topics

* Euro gains after robust German ZEW prove short-lived

* German ZEW unexpectedly soars to highest since April 2010

* Italy election worries weigh on euro

* Yen gains as Aso says not considering foreign bond buying

By Anooja Debnath

LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - The euro fell across the board on Tuesday, giving up its brief gains after better-than-expected German data, as investors were reluctant to buy the single currency before Italian elections this weekend.

Prospects of a fragmented parliament after Italy's Feb. 24-25 election which may hamper the country's reform efforts, kept the euro under selling pressure. Recent data revealing a deeper-than-forecast euro zone recession has also hurt the euro.

"There is risk aversion for holding net long euro positions ahead of Italian elections which has important ramifications across Europe. If there was a loose and erratic coalition, it would be very negative for euro/dollar," said Peter Frank, FX strategist at BBVA.

The euro was last down 0.1 percent at $1.3336, having earlier risen as high as $1.3374 after data showed the ZEW's index of German analyst and investor sentiment at its highest since April 2010.

However, the ZEW survey also showed that investor sentiment on the current state of the German economy was yet to pick up and the euro's gains proved fleeting, with traders saying investors were inclined to sell into any rallies.

"The euro did not sustain the upward movement after the ZEW data because the current conditions index was a disappointment...if current conditions are deteriorating then that is not good enough for euro/dollar to rally," BBVA's Frank said.

However, the euro remained above a three-week low of $1.3306 hit on Friday, with traders reporting bids at $1.3310-15.

Traders also said worries that euro zone officials could express concerns about the euro's strength could weigh on the currency after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Monday the central bank would have to assess the impact of the euro's appreciation.

The euro was down 0.6 percent against the yen at 124.69 yen , though it was off an earlier low of 125.45 yen.

YEN BOUNCE

The yen rose on Tuesday after Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said he was not considering foreign bond purchases as part of efforts to ease monetary policy, a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said this was an option.

But its gains were expected to be limited, with traders and analysts still expecting the yen to keep falling on expectations the Bank of Japan will pursue aggressive monetary easing.

"The Aso comments are the reason we have seen the yen strengthening ... But this is just a consolidation phase and the general trend for yen weakness will remain," said Antje Praefcke, currency strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

The dollar was down 0.5 percent at 93.52 yen, well below a peak of 94.22 yen hit on Monday after Japan escaped direct criticism from its G20 peers at the weekend for pursuing ultra-easy monetary policies that weaken its currency. However, it remained above chart support at 93.38 yen, the 200-hour moving average.

Having risen about 20 percent since mid-November, the dollar has hesitated to re-test last week's 33-month high of 94.47 yen when it failed to breach a reported options barrier at 94.50 yen.

Praefcke said investors were locking in profits as the dollar stayed stuck below resistance at 94.50-95.00 yen. Commerzbank expect the dollar to rise to 100 yen by year-end.

But some strategists said the yen's fall could lose momentum as investors become wary of betting on further yen weakness until there is more clarity on the next Bank of Japan governor.

Tokyo has delayed nominating a new governor for its central bank by a week, fanning talk of friction between the prime minister and the finance minister on the issue.

The dollar index held firm near a six-week high of 80.727 hit on Monday and was last up 0.1 percent at 80.647. It faces resistance from its 200-day moving average at 80.940.

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