FOREX NEWS - Dollar edges up vs euro; ECB, G20 meetings in focus
Wed Apr 1, 2009 4:22pm EDT
* ADP shows heavy U.S. private-sector job losses in March
* Euro zone unemployment rises to 8.5 pct, weighs on euro
* Markets keep eye on G20, ECB rate meetings
(Updates prices, adds comments, details)
By Wanfeng Zhou
NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar edged higher against the euro on Wednesday on expectations the European Central Bank would cut interest rates and possibly announce unconventional policy measures to stimulate the economy.
Investors were also watching leaders from the Group of 20 high-income and developing countries' meeting in London, to see whether they adopt coordinated steps to ward off a deepening global slump.
The ECB is widely expected to cut its benchmark interest rate to 1.0 percent on Thursday. Markets are keen to see whether it will follow the U.S., British, and Japanese central banks in buying corporate or government debt to boost money supply.
Analysts said data on Wednesday, which showed euro zone unemployment jumped more than expected to 8.5 percent and German retail sales fell unexpectedly in February, is likely to heap more pressure on the ECB. For details, see [ID:nL172870] and [ID:nL1674613].
"Economic data from the euro zone has been very bad," said Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT Forex in New York. "Not only is the ECB expected to cut interest rates by 50 basis points, but there's a very strong chance that they'll actually start to talk about alternative, non-standard measures, which is credit easing or quantitative easing."
In late New York trading, the euro was changing hands at $1.3230 <EUR=>, down 0.2 percent.
The dollar fell 0.2 percent to 98.65 yen <JPY=>, while the euro dropped 0.3 percent to 130.56 yen <EURJPY=>.
UBS currency strategist Brian Kim said any hint that the ECB intends to purchase bonds, which would follow similar actions by other central banks, would likely hurt the euro.
"That could be seen as the ECB playing catch-up and acknowledging problems are worse than they'd let on," he said.
Earlier, the yen was hit by the Bank of Japan's Tankan corporate survey, which showed the index of manufacturers' confidence falling at its fastest pace on record to an all-time low. But the currency recovered, with some analysts saying expectations for a deepening recession in the Japanese economy have been mostly priced in.
Major currencies moved in tight ranges as caution ahead of the outcome of G20 and ECB meetings overshadowed a report showing the United States shed another 742,000 private sector jobs in March. Strategists said the jobs report bodes ill for the government's more comprehensive employment data on Friday. [nN01407201]
"The jobs numbers are pretty bad, but people have settled into accepting that reality," UBS' Kim said. "There's more concern with positioning ahead of the G20 and ECB meetings."
The G20 is expected to agree on increasing funding for the International Monetary Fund, but markets will also watch for any accord on global fiscal stimulus.
U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking on the eve of the summit, denied rifts among leading economies and urged consensus on joint action.
Currency strategists at Citigroup said with market expectations at reasonably low levels, the G20 summit is unlikely to be have much impact on investors' risk appetite.
"That being said, the significant boost to the IMF's lending capacity and the increased focus on trade finance should be a positive for emerging market currencies," they wrote in a research note.
Sterling rose 0.8 percent to $1.4432 <GBP=> after data showed the rate of decline in Britain's manufacturing sector eased by more than expected last month. (Additional reporting by Steven C. Johnson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
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