* Euro weak near 3-month low vs dollar on Cyprus problems
* Nicosia "unlikely" to endorse bailout deal - govt
* Soft German ZEW could be fresh blow to euro
By Anirban Nag
LONDON, March 19 The euro fell on Tuesday as
Cyprus's parliament was set to reject a controversial bank
deposit levy crucial for the country to secure financial aid but
which has raised fears of fresh euro zone instability.
These concerns could prompt long-term investors to sell the
euro, traders said. And if the ZEW German investor and analyst
survey at 1000 GMT showed sentiment was hit in March due to
uncertainty stemming from an inconclusive Italian election, the
common currency could quickly drop below $1.29.
The euro was down 0.25 percent from late U.S. levels at
$1.2921, but holding above a three-month low of $1.2882
hit on Monday, after a Cyprus government spokesman said a plan
to levy taxes on bank deposits was unlikely to be approved by
parliament. That would push the island closer to a default and a
banking collapse that could have repercussions across the euro
Rejection of the deposit tax plan would inject fresh
volatility in to financial markets and weigh on the euro.
Safe-haven German bund futures were higher while European stocks
fell in opening deals as did bond prices of heavily-indebted
countries like Spain and Italy.
"If the vote doesn't go through, it would lead to another
precipitous fall in the euro as worries about a banking crisis
will escalate," said Adam Myers, European head of FX strategy at
Credit Agricole, who expects the euro to drop to $1.27 in coming
He said the euro was unlikely to gain much support from the
German ZEW survey, given attention was focused on Cyprus.
Against sterling, which is often bought as a shelter in
times of heightened uncertainty in the euro zone, the euro
wallowed near a five-week low of 85.34 pence hit on Monday
to change hands at 85.66 on Tuesday.
"If the plan is voted down, there will surely be fresh
selling in the euro," said Tohru Sasaki, the head of Japan rates
and FX research at JPMorgan Chase Bank.
The common currency faces an uphill battle to close the
yawning gap to Friday's close of $1.3076, although analysts saw
support at its 200-day moving average of $1.2875.
Sasaki said the euro looked vulnerable as its rebound from
Monday's three-month low was much smaller than its bounce after
the fall triggered by a Greek election last May, when investors
were shocked by the ruling coalition failing to win a majority.
"On Monday after the Greek election, the euro almost fully
recovered from a 1 percent loss in Asia. But that turned out to
be a high for many months to come, as the euro kept falling in
the next two months and a half," he said.
Analysts said the unprecedented plan to impose taxes on
citizens' savings would unnerve savers in larger European
countries and could prompt them to withdraw funds.
As a result, the more liquid dollar and the Japanese yen,
often sought during times of financial instability and economic
stress. would remain in vogue.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback
against a basket of currencies, was up 0.1 percent at 82.759.
The dollar was up 0.2 percent on the day at 95.35 yen
with the Japanese currency likely to be driven by any comments
from incoming governor of the Bank of Japan Haruhiko Kuroda, who
assumes the post on Wednesday.
Expectations are huge for Kuroda to put in place an
aggressive monetary policy which will help lift Japan out of
deflation and which is likely to weaken the yen.
"If the dollar-yen manages to break above the top of its
93-96 yen range then it could sail pretty easily to 98," said
Michiyoshi Kato, senior vice president of forex sales at Mizuho
Corporate Bank. "Of course, if Cyprus blows up, risk sentiment
would spike, meaning it might be difficult for it to get there."