FOREX-Euro falls as Cyprus fears linger; yen surges
* Cyprus has till Monday to raise money to secure a bailout * Dollar, euro fall more than 1 percent versus yen * BoJ's Kuroda offers no clues on an emergency meeting By Wanfeng Zhou NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - The euro fell broadly on Thursday, hit by fears of a financial meltdown in Cyprus, while the yen surged as renewed euro zone worries spurred investors to sell riskier trades funded by the low-yielding Japanese currency. The euro zone is ready to discuss a new draft proposal from Cyprus that it expects to receive soon, the bloc's finance ministers said in a statement after a conference call to discuss the crisis in the island nation. Cyprus' parliament voted down a plan announced over the weekend to impose taxes on citizens' savings as part of an international bailout. Without the aid, the country would face a collapse of its financial system that could push it out of the euro currency zone. The European Union gave Cyprus till Monday to raise the money needed to secure the bailout. "While the situation remains unclear in Cyprus as to how the country will obtain the necessary aid and under what conditions, the euro is likely to remain under pressure," said Eric Viloria, senior currency strategist at FOREX.com in New York. The euro slid 0.3 percent to $1.2898, slightly above a session low of $1.2879 and edging back towards a near four-month trough of $1.2843 hit on Tuesday. Near-term support lay around the 200-day moving average for the euro against the dollar around $1.2877, with most investors looking to sell into any bounce toward the $1.30 level. Standard & Poor's cut the sovereign long-term foreign currency credit rating on Cyprus deeper into junk status on Thursday, lowering the rating to CCC from CCC-plus as the country struggles with a banking crisis. Data showing the euro zone's economic downturn deepened, even before Cyprus' bailout debacle, added to worries about the bloc's growth outlook and also pressured the single currency. Germany's composite PMI fell in March, although it held above the 50 line that separates growth from contraction. In France, the bloc's second-biggest economy, it sank to a four-year low. "The uncertain situation in Cyprus and the dour euro zone economic data are the key issues here and these are two reasons not to be buying the euro at this time," said Greg Moore, currency strategist at TD Securities in Toronto. The euro also fell to a five-week low against the British pound and was last down 0.7 percent at 85.01 pence. Against the yen, the euro lost 1.5 percent to 122.29 yen . The dollar fell 1.1 percent to 94.93 yen, having hit a session low of 94.56 yen, according to Reuters data. It's on pace for the biggest daily drop since Feb. 25. The yen tends to strengthen in times of market stress, behaving like a safe-haven currency, as investors sell assets like stocks and higher-yielding currencies and buy back the yen. The prospect of further aggressive monetary easing in Japan has made the yen a favorite funding currency for such trades. "There's obviously some risk aversion based on the Cyprus situation," said Fabian Eliasson, vice president of currency sales at Mizuho Corporate Bank in New York. New Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda vowed to take all possible measures available to achieve its 2 percent inflation goal in about two years. He also said the BoJ does not have to rely on currency moves to escape deflation and offered little insight on whether he will call for an early policy board meeting ahead of the bank's next scheduled meeting on April 3-4. BNP Paribas currency strategist Vassili Serebriakov said Kuroda's comments were less dovish than markets had anticipated. "The market has a very high bar for dovishness from the BoJ, so when he said that the bank does not need to rely on a weak yen to beat deflation, that kind of was a letdown." Analysts said the latest bounce in the yen could attract more sellers as market expectations for aggressive monetary easing by the BoJ remained intact.
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