March 16, 2015 / 3:15 AM / 4 years ago

FOREX-Friendless euro drifts down to new lows, dollar firms

* Euro descends to new 12-year low of $1.0457 early in Asia

* Momentum still bearish a week after ECB kicked off QE program

* Canadian dollar holds near six-year trough as crude oil slides (Adds details, quotes)

By Ian Chua and Shinichi Saoshiro

SYDNEY/TOKYO, March 16 (Reuters) - The euro sank to a fresh 12-year low on Monday after a recent bounce was met with fresh selling interest in a sign that investors were still very bearish on the common currency.

The euro fell as far as $1.0457 early in Asia, its lowest since January 2003, after a brief bounce above $1.0600 overnight. It last traded at $1.0524.

“While we have hit our mid-year EUR/USD target of 1.05...we see no reason to fade the downtrend,” said Elsa Lignos, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

“Our technical team highlights rallies to resistance at 1.0765 as a selling opportunity, targeting 1.0073.”

Last week, the common currency skidded 3.2 percent, suffering its biggest weekly fall since September 2011 as the European Central Bank kicked off its 1.1 trillion euro bond-buying quantitative easing (QE) stimulus program.

Against the yen, the euro fetched 127.66, holding near a 21-month trough of 126.85 set on Friday.

Persistent weakness in the euro helped the dollar index stretch to a 12-year high of 100.420 in early trade. It was last at 100.030.

The greenback was flat on the yen at 121.32, though it remained within striking distance of a near eight-year peak of 122.04.

Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Friday showed currency speculators piled onto long dollar bets in the week ended March 10.

Partly underpinning the move is expectations that the Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates. Many analysts suspect the Fed will lay the groundwork for a move as soon as midyear at this week’s policy review.

“At the review we expect the Fed to drop ‘patient’ and send a message that it is ready to hike rates depending on economic data. Against such a background, the euro remains the most vulnerable versus the dollar,” said Shinichiro Kadota, chief Japan forex strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

“ECB’s QE continues to take a toll on the euro. Euro zone bond yields were thought to have mostly priced in the QE launch beforehand, but the magnitude of their decline has shown that such expectations were premature,” he said.

Just one week into its launch the QE programme effectively floored yields on most euro zone debt, leaving many at record lows and in many cases at negative levels.

Participants saw room for euro zone yields to decline further as the QE programme will last until September 2016.

Among commodity currencies, the Canadian dollar languished at six-year lows as a combination of U.S. dollar strength and falling oil prices weighed heavily on the currency.

The loonie stood at C$1.2797 per USD, flirting with Friday’s six-year trough of C$1.2824 per USD.

Extending heavy losses suffered last week on the dollar’s broad strength and warning by the International Energy Agency of a growing oil glut, U.S. crude oil slipped to a six-year low of $43.57 a barrel. (Editing by Sandra Maler & Shri Navaratnam)

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