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Thursday December 11, 2008 - 10:33:08 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro hits 6-week high vs dollar; SNB cuts rates

* Euro hits 6-wk high at $1.3158 <EUR=>, dollar index falls

* SNB cuts rates by 50 bps, as expected

* U.S. auto deal makes progress, rocky road seen in Senate

(Changes dateline, byline, adds quotes, new prices; pvs TOKYO)

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - The euro hit a six-week high against a broadly weaker dollar on Thursday with doubts beginning to creep in as to whether projected pent-up demand for the U.S. currency would materialise over the year-end.

Dealers also cited technical momentum in favour of the euro, having vaulted the $1.30 level, while markets were still keeping a keen eye on chequered progress of a bailout for the troubled U.S. auto sector.

The Swiss National Bank became the latest leading central bank to cut interest rates, but its impact was limited as the 50 basis point move paled in comparison with more dramatic reductions from other central banks last week.

Having climbed thanks to a wave of risk aversion in recent months, in tandem with the low-yielding Japanese yen, some analysts said pent up demand for the U.S. unit from deleveraging flows might be showing some sign of cooling.

"There was strong consensus that the requirement for dollars over the end-year period would see the dollar pushed higher, but that doesn't seem to be materialising," said Adam Cole, global head of currency strategy at RBC Capital Markets in London.

"For that reason people are beginning to question how strong the dollar stays near-term," he said.

Expectations for big European Central Bank rate cuts cooled after Executive Board member Juergen Stark said late on Wednesday the bank did not have a lot of room for manoeuvre after its cut last week, and that any further reductions could be done only in small steps.

Despite a spike up in euro/dollar after his comments, economists were sanguine about the impact on sentiment.

"Interest rate differentials play a minor role at the moment. But ... it's not good for Euroland that the ECB does not have so much room for manoeuvre," said Elisabeth Andrew, senior strategist at Nordea in Copenhagen.

By 0924 GMT, the euro was up 0.8 percent on the day at $1.3113, having hit a six-week high of $1.3158 earlier in the global session.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was down 0.7 percent at 84.829 .DXY, while it also dipped 0.4 percent versus the yen to 92.25 yen <JPY=>.

The dollar traded up at 1.1920 Swiss francs compared with 1.1905 francs <CHF=> just before the SNB rate decision, and the euro rose to 1.5640 francs from 1.5625 francs <EURCHF=>.


There was little reaction in FX markets to the approval of a $14 billion auto industry bailout plan by the U.S. House of Representatives. [ID:nN09294627]

While the House stuck to its plan, uncertainty was seen in the Senate, where a razor-thin Democratic majority cannot ensure passage. A vote could come as early as Thursday, but some Republicans have vowed to slow or even block the legislation.

Elsewhere, cracks were appearing in the global effort to drag the world out of recession on Thursday with Germany attacking Britain ahead of an EU summit for rushing into debt to bail out industries and pump up growth. [nLB344189]

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck urged governments to pause before pledging to spend billions of dollars to try to push their economies out of trouble. (Reporting by Veronica Brown; Editing by Mike Peacock)

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved


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