* Signs of improvement in euro zone prompts short-covering
* Euro up by default as dollar, yen under pressure from
* Shanghai share jump helps to lift risk appetite, hurt yen
* Euro/Swiss at 11-week high as franc hit by negative
By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO, Dec 5 The euro climbed to a seven-week
high against the dollar on Wednesday, boosted by efforts to
tackle the debt problems of Greece and Spain, while the dollar
came under pressure from expectations of new bond buying by the
The single currency could soon test its September peak,
although many traders are not convinced it has enough traction
to make a clean break from that level, given the fragile state
of the euro zone economies.
"Things seem to be improving quite rapidly in Europe. Spain
is now injecting funds to its banks, which were at the heart of
the problems. Greece looks on its way to secure funding. The
crisis appears to be heading for an end for now," said Takako
Masai, manager of forex at Shinsei Bank.
The euro rose to as high as $1.3125, a level not seen since
mid-October and last stood at $1.3110, up 0.15 percent
from late U.S. levels and within a striking distance of its
September high of $1.31729.
Greece announced this week better-than-expected terms for
its debt buyback, fueling optimism it will continue to receive
international aid to avoid a debt default.
Spain's formal request for European funds to recapitalise
its banks this week also helped boost confidence in the single
In addition, many market players expect the U.S. Federal
Reserve to unveil a fresh bond purchase scheme to replace its
Operation Twist, a programme that will expire this month, at its
policy meeting on Dec. 11-12.
Since September the Fed has been buying a total of $85
billion in long-term securities each month to help push down
Many analysts expect the Fed to keep buying a combined $85
billion of Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds after planned
expiry of the Operation Twist, in which it buys $45 billion
long-term bonds while selling the same amount of shorter bonds.
"The Fed is likely to take fresh steps to replace the
Operation Twist. Speculation of more aggressive easing in Japan
is all over the place, and Australia also cut rates. By default
the euro rose," said Makoto Noji, senior strategist at SMBC
By contrast, the European Central Bank is widely expected to
keep rates on hold at its policy meeting on Thursday.
END OF RECOVERY?
The euro is also supported by shrinking U.S.-German bond
yields, with which the currency has a close inverse correlation
as smaller U.S. yield advantage tends to reduce incentives for
investors to hold the dollar over the euro.
The U.S. yield advantage fell to around 23 basis points from
31 basis points about a month ago.
The euro also hit a 7 1/2-month high of 107.95 yen
with investors expecting a more dovish stance from the Bank of
Japan if the main opposition party wins a Dec. 16 election as
seems likely. The single currency last stood at 107.80 yen, up
The yen also weakened against the dollar, which rose 0.4
percent to 82.22 yen, as three-percent jump from in
Shanghai shares prompted risk appetite.
The euro also rose to a 11-week high against the Swiss
franc, benefiting from a selloff in the Swiss currency after
Switzerland's largest banks said earlier in the week they would
charge fees and pay negative rates on some franc deposits.
The single currency rose 0.1 percent to 1.2146 francs
, having risen to an 11-week high of 1.2153 at one
point on Wednesday.
Some market players think, however, the euro's rally could
run out of gas soon, with its relative strength index at above
the 70 mark, a level typically seen as indicating an
over-shooting in uptrend.
The euro's broad recovery also stems in part from investors'
buy-back to close their books before the year-end, and fresh
selling could start as soon as new year begins, some analysts
"I don't think the euro's recent rise reflect a big
improvement in the view on Europe. I can't see the euro rising
above its February high of $1.3487. The euro is likely to have
another tough year next year," SMBC Nikko's Noji said.