* Euro off lows despite uncertainty about Italy's politics
* Fed to kick off two-day policy meeting Tuesday
* Investors expect more stimulus from the Fed
By Ian Chua and Hideyuki Sano
SYDNEY/TOKYO, Dec 11 The euro hovered above
two-week lows on Tuesday as nerves calmed over Italy's latest
political turmoil for now and as prospects of more stimulus from
the Federal Reserve pinned down the dollar.
Expectations that the Fed will announce fresh easing steps
on Wednesday also lifted high-yielding currencies against the
dollar, boosting the Canadian dollar to a two-month high and the
New Zealand dollar to a nine-month high.
The common currency stood at $1.2957, up 0.15 percent
from late U.S. levels and above a low of around $1.2880 plumbed
It has risen some 0.6 percent from Friday's two-week trough
around $1.2876. Immediate resistance is seen at $1.2973, a level
representing the 38.2 percent retracement of its Dec. 5-7 fall.
The euro found some support after Italian Prime Minister
Mario Monti played down market fears over his decision to
resign, saying there was no danger of a vacuum ahead of an
election in the spring.
"The euro's dip below $1.2900 proved to be short-lived,"
said Vassili Serebriakov, strategist at BNP Paribas. "FX markets
are showing some notable resilience following news of Monti's
Monti's move came after former prime minister Silvio
Berlusconi abruptly withdrew support for Monti's technocrat
government, accusing Monti's reform and austerity steps of
dragging Italy "to the brink of a precipice."
"There's no doubt Monti's resignation raised some concerns
but it's not like Berlusconi has strong public support," said
Katsunori Kitakura, associate general manager of market making
at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
Although Italian bond and shares were hit by the news, that
did not lead to rise-averse sentiment in broader financial
markets, partly on the view that debt buying programme by the
European Central Bank could curb selling in Italian debt, should
their yields keep rising.
Another factor keeping the euro off its lows was a
reluctance by investors to aggressively buy the dollar, given
expectations the Fed will replace its expiring 'Operation Twist'
programme with another Treasury bond-buying plan at its two-day
policy meeting starting later in the day.
Many economists believe the U.S. central bank will announce
monthly bond purchases of $45 billion, although some think it
could surprise with a bigger amount to press borrowing costs
lower. Such an outcome could see the greenback come under
The dollar index slipped 0.1 percent to 80.23,
retreating from at two-week high of 80.658 set on Monday.
The dollar was buying 82.37 yen, still not far from
an eight-month peak of 82.84 set last month, though the currency
pair has been stuck in a narrow trading band for the past couple
of weeks after a sharp gain in mid-November.
The yen has been under pressure from expectations that
opposition leader Shinzo Abe, a front-runner to become prime
minister after an election on Sunday, will push the central bank
to take more aggressive easing steps.
Japanese media survey showed conservative Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) and its smaller ally are heading for a resounding
victory, winning more than 300 seats in parliament's 480-member
If they win more than 320 seats, or two-thirds of the total,
they can push their policy more smoothly because they can
overturn votes in the upper house, where they do not have
"The dollar is consolidating after rapid rise, with people
looking at the Fed and the U.S. fiscal cliff. But the dollar
could jump further if the LDP and its ally gains more than
two-thirds of seats," said a trader at a Japanese bank.
The prospect of fresh stimulus from the Fed and growing
expectations the Bank of Japan could expand its asset-buying and
lending programme at a meeting next week kept high-yielding
currencies well bid, despite worries that bullish positions were
The Canadian dollar edged up slightly to a two-month high of
C$0.9862 to the U.S. dollar while the New Zealand dollar rose
about 0.2 percent to a nine-month high of $0.8358.
The Aussie briefly dipped following a surprise plunge in
Australia's business confidence but pared most losses to stand
at $1.0482, not far from an 11-week high of $1.0515 set