* Cyprus says close to a deal to unlock bailout money
* Euro on track for first weekly rise since early February
* Dollar falls for second week versus yen
By Wanfeng Zhou
NEW YORK, March 22 The euro rose against the
dollar on Friday and was headed for its first weekly gain in
seven weeks on hopes Cyprus will find a solution before Monday
to avert a financial meltdown.
Cyprus said it had reached a deal to spin off the Greek
units of its debt-ridden banks and the country's ruling party
said a solution to its bailout crisis was only hours away.
The EU has given Cyprus until Monday to raise the 5.8
billion euros it needs to secure a 10 billion euro international
lifeline. Without a deal, the European Central Bank will cut
funds to Cypriot banks and the country may be forced to exit the
"It looks like the euro can weather this latest storm, but
beyond that, it's going to be a slow drag," said Brian Kim,
currency strategist at RBS Securities in Stamford, Connecticut.
The euro rose 0.7 percent to $1.2985, with traders
citing buying by a UK bank. It hit a four-month low of $1.2843
earlier in the week after Cyprus rejected a proposal to tax bank
deposits in exchange for a European Union bailout.
Cypriot leaders are discussing with their international
lenders the adoption of a levy of more than 10 percent on bank
deposits over 100,000 euros ($130,000), a ruling party official
Even though the crisis in Cyprus has sparked fears of bank
runs in other troubled euro zone economies, bond yields in Spain
and Italy been stable, suggesting little signs of market stress.
Citigroup, in a note to clients, said with Cyprus being such
a small piece of the euro zone and with G10 countries holding
such small amounts of Cypriot assets, the impact of even
worst-case scenarios on the euro may not be bigger than 1 to 2
"In some ways, the worst-case scenario for the euro was the
ugly precedent that would have been sent by the rejected deposit
tax," the firm said. "A solution that results in bigger losses
for some stakeholders but a prettier final precedent from this
crisis could prove mildly the euro positive at this juncture."
Even with a rebound, strategists said the euro could
struggle to break above $1.30 as recent data underscored a
worrying outlook for the euro zone economy.
Against the yen, the euro hit a two-week low of 121.45 yen
after Germany's Ifo survey of business morale fell
short of expectations.. It later recovered and
was last trading up 0.1 percent at 122.54 yen.
Asian investors were cited as buyers of short-dated options,
betting on drops to 121 and 120.50 yen.
The dollar fell 0.5 percent to 94.41 yen, having
earlier fallen to 94.18 yen. The highly-liquid Japanese currency
tends to be bought during times of economic uncertainty and
heightened financial market stress.
The yen has risen against the dollar for a second straight
On Thursday the dollar shed about 1.2 percent as investors
covered their negative yen bets after new Bank of Japan Governor
Haruhiko Kuroda disappointed some investors who had expected
stronger hints of aggressive monetary easing.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a
basket of currencies, fell 0.4 percent to 82.380, retreating
further from last week's seven-month high of 83.166.
Sterling rose 0.4 percent to $1.5230, paring gains
after Fitch Ratings warned it was likely to downgrade Britain in
the coming weeks, citing high government debt levels and weak