* Euro off highs, commodity currencies on the defensive
* Markets take profits on recent gains following Greek
* HSBC's flash PMI for China next in focus
By Ian Chua
SYDNEY, Feb 22 The euro struggled to make
any headway in Asia on Wednesday, having retreated from near
two-week highs as optimism over the long-awaited Greek bailout
deal quickly gave way to concerns about economic growth and
Traders said the Asian session will be directed by HSBC's
flash manufacturing activity report on China. Any disappointment
could weigh on risk appetite, although it could also bolster
expectations of more stimulus from Chinese authorities.
The euro stood at $1.3235, down from Tuesday's high
of $1.3293. It is seen capped at $1.3306, the 100-day moving
average, and at last week's peak of $1.3321.
While Greece's aid package helped ease fears of an immediate
default, the country's economic outlook remained anything but
rosy, a problem that could yet derail its efforts to meet tough
cost-cutting measures to secure the bailout.
"At the end of the day, considering how perfectly in place
the pieces will need to fall for this bailout and said reforms
to make the necessary changes to help revitalize the Greek
economy, I do not believe that a Greek default is off the
table," said Christopher Vecchio, currency analyst at DailyFX.
The dollar index edged off a 1-1/2 week low of 78.797
to 79.094 as the euro floundered. Against the yen, the greenback
eased to 79.70, recoiling from a six-month high around
79.90 set on Monday.
The dollar has rallied some 5 percent from lows around 76.00
yen since the start of the month, spurred in part by
yen-weakness after the Bank of Japan's surprise easing last
"The pace of the yen's move in recent days looks
unsustainable. But the yen has the ability to weaken further,
although it's not going to do so in a straight line," analysts
at Societe Generale wrote in a note.
Among the biggest casualties overnight were commodity
currencies as they suffered what traders said was a classic
buy-the-rumour-sell-the-fact move following the Greek deal.
The Australian dollar was at $1.0657, more than a
full cent lower from Monday's peak of $1.0817. It is testing the
bottom of an uptrend channel formed from December and a break
below the Feb. 14 trough at $1.0629 was seen paving the way for
The immediate focus for the Aussie is wage cost data due at
0030 GMT. Analysts generally expect a benign rise of 0.8 percent
on the quarter, an outcome that would support the Reserve Bank
of Australia's relaxed outlook for inflation.