Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Euro slides as doubts emerge, Aussie recovers

SYDNEY: The euro fell on Monday, resuming its slide toward recent one-year lows, as fiscal worries about the broader euro zone returned and the initial relief from a bailout package for debt-stricken Greece fizzled out.

Growth-linked currencies like the Australian dollar, however, recouped earlier losses made in a knee-jerk reaction to China's move to tighten policy.

The euro fell to as low as $1.3206 in Asian trade, losing 0.8 percent from $1.3313 late on Friday. It had rallied to as high as $1.3359 in early trade in Asia, before losing all those hard-earned gains.

Traders reported stop-loss selling below $1.3220 with the single currency making an outside trading day on the charts, suggesting a bearish trend is in store.

More stops are lined up around $1.32 and it all depends on how Portuguese and Spanish debt spreads trade when Europe opens. If they blow out, the euro could fall further, traders said. It had hit a one-year low of $1.3114 last week.

"The bailout package is turning out to be a 10-tonne weight around the euro," said David Scutt, a forex trader at Arab Bank Australia in Sydney. "It is a classic case of buy the rumor and sell the fact.

The euro also fell on the yen, dropping to 124.19 yen, from 125.06 yen late on Friday. Trade is expected to be light due to holidays in Japan, China and the UK.

The euro is down about 7 percent against the greenback since the start of the year as fears about a default by Greece and concerns it will spread to other southern European countries drove speculators to go short on the single currency.

Latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed speculators had run up record short positions against the euro in the week to April 27 as uncertainty over the Greek debt crisis mounted.

On Sunday, European finance ministers agreed to a record 110 billion ($147 billion) bailout package for Greece. They approved a three-year package of emergency loans and agreed the first funds would be released in time for Athens to make a big debt repayment to creditors on May 19.

The plan still needs to be approved by German politicians and the tough conditions will be hard for many Greeks to swallow. The loans to Greece are linked to progress in austerity measures promised by Athens, a condition many investors are wary of.

"Shorts are too large to give the currency much downward momentum, but policy is too unpredictable to bet on a sustained euro recovery," JP Morgan said in a note.

The euro's losses saw the dollar index .DXY rise 0.4 percent to 82.22.

The U.S. dollar slipped on the yen, easing to 93.88 yen, from around 93.94 yen late on Friday. The U.S. dollar had fallen to 93.85 yen in early trade, hurt by a bout of selling on the Aussie/yen cross, traders said.

The Australian dollar recovered from an early low of $0.9210, to trade at $0.9245. Sentiment toward commodity-linked currencies was hurt early by China's decision to raise banks' reserve requirements by 50 basis points at the weekend.

Also, weighing on the Aussie initially was the Australian government's plan to levy a super tax on resource companies of 40 percent. Traders said, buying by U.S. entities supported the Aussie, leading to a short squeeze.

Sterling extended losses, falling to $1.5256 from $1.5311 late on Friday, with weekend opinion polls suggesting that no political party had a big enough lead to guarantee an outright parliamentary majority in Britain's May 6 election.

Analysts say a lack of majority in parliament could hinder plans for Britain to get its fiscal house in order and would weigh on the pound in the short term. Near support is seen at around $1.5220, the hourly support on April 29.

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