FOREX-Euro nurses losses after ECB, faces more headwinds; focus on U.S. jobs

Thu May 2, 2013 11:39pm EDT

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* Euro steadies after Thursday's drop

* ECB Draghi's comments on deposit rates dents euro

* Focus turns to U.S. jobs data later on Friday

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE, May 3 (Reuters) - The euro steadied somewhat versus the dollar on Friday, but the single currency continues to face headwinds after sliding the previous day when the European Central Bank cut interest rates and held out the possibility of further policy action.

The ECB cut its benchmark refinancing rate by 25 basis points to a record low 0.5 percent on Thursday in a widely expected move.

The single currency came under pressure after ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank is technically ready for negative deposit rates and noted downside risks to the economy.

A negative deposit rate would effectively penalise banks for hoarding cash. Such a move could drive money out of the euro zone into other higher-yielding assets and encourage the banks to lend out money rather than hold it at the central bank.

"One of the frustrations of the ECB is the monetary transmission mechanism has broken down. I think in order to aid the repair of that, there's a likelihood that we'll see further measures," said Mitul Kotecha, Hong Kong-based head of global foreign exchange strategy for Credit Agricole.

Such talk of further possible ECB action may weigh on the single currency, he said.

"I think that will help cap the euro at a time when the growth outlook in Europe continues to remain very weak."

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.3074, but remained well below a two-month high of $1.3243 set on Wednesday on trading platform EBS.

Possible support lies at its 55-day moving average near $1.3030. Lower down, there is more support near $1.2970, which roughly coincides with both the 200-day moving average and the bottom of the daily Ichimoku cloud.

On the top side, resistance lies near $1.3159, the euro's 100-day moving average.

U.S. JOBS DATA

Investors' focus now shifts to Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls report for April. Economists polled by Reuters are looking for job growth of 145,000 last month, up from 88,000 for March. The unemployment rate is seen holding steady at 7.6 percent.

Given a weak reading on private sector hiring released earlier this week, market players probably suspect that the jobs data might come in weaker, said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.

"I don't think there will be that much of an impact even if it were to come in at around 100,000 or so," Okagawa said, referring to nonfarm payrolls.

If the jobs data adds to recent signs of a softening in the U.S. economy, it could intensify speculation that the Fed is unlikely to scale back its bond purchases very soon, and that its next move might even be to increase its debt buying programme. Such talk would likely weigh on the dollar.

In an encouraging sign for the U.S. labour market's outlook, data released on Thursday showed that the number of Americans filing new jobless benefits claims fell sharply last week to a five-year low.

The report on jobless claims helped give a lift to the dollar against the yen on Thursday, although it has no direct bearing on Friday's April jobs data.

The dollar held steady at about 98.00 yen, having pulled up from a two-week low of 96.99 yen set on April 30.

The greenback hit a four-year high of 99.95 yen in April after the Bank of Japan unveiled its drastic monetary stimulus programme, but its rally has stalled in the past few weeks after it met firm resistance near the psychologically important 100 yen level.

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