FOREX-Euro gains after upbeat Ifo, yen rises as stocks lose ground

Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:27am EST

Related Topics

* Euro up after German Ifo, fails to break 7-week high

* Yen gains on soft China housing data

By Laurence Fletcher

LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The euro rose against the dollar on Monday after a better-than-forecast German business indicator, while the yen climbed as investors sought safe havens after a fall in Asian stock markets and soft China house price data.

The euro rose as high as $1.3772 against the dollar after the closely watched German Ifo survey beat expectations, although the single currency failed to break through its seven-week high of $1.3773 hit last week.

The dollar, meanwhile, which hit a two-month low of 100.755 yen earlier this month, was 0.2 percent lower at 102.33 yen .

The Nikkei was down 0.2 percent overnight. The yen and the Nikkei tend to move in opposite directions, with a rally in the index often seen as a signal for speculators to sell the yen and buy higher-yielding currencies, while that trade may be unwound when risk appetite falls.

The yen's strength this year has surprised hedge funds and other investors alike. Many went into this year with bullish bets on the greenback on the expectation that it would rise against the Japanese currency as the U.S. Federal Reserve cut back its bond-buying while the Bank of Japan eased monetary policy further.

"Dollar-yen moves on risk aversion, and when Tokyo stocks are down dollar-yen is down, even if the reason is a drop-off in activity in its (Japan's) major export market," said Marshall Gittler, head of global FX strategy at IronFX Global.

Gittler pointed to euro zone inflation data for February on Friday, as well as January inflation data later on Monday.

Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs agreed at a weekend meeting in Sydney to set a collective GDP growth target of 2 percent over the next five years.

ECB President Mario Draghi reiterated at the meeting that Europe's recovery was "still fragile".

Global growth and recent turmoil in emerging markets were in focus at the meeting, but the G20 communique did not hint at significant friction between the advanced and emerging economies.

The rise in home prices in China eased for the first time in 14 months in January, data showed on Monday, raising fresh concerns over the health of an economy that has been a key driver for global growth in recent years.

The dollar index was 0.1 percent down at 80.182 after posting its first weekly gain in three weeks last week, largely on minutes from the Federal Reserve's January policy meeting showing that the U.S. central bank's plan to reduce its monthly asset purchases remained intact.

Market participants will be keen to see whether the Fed's tapering commitment offsets any weakness in U.S. economic indicators due this week.

"What was agreed at the G20 meeting, such as setting a 2 percent global growth target, will be forgotten immediately. But tacit approval by other G20 nations for U.S. tapering gives the dollar some support while weighing on emerging currencies," said Yunosuke Ikeda, forex strategist at Nomura Securities.

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