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FOREX NEWS-Euro up as stocks rise but market anxiety remains

Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:09pm EDT

* Euro off 1-month low vs dollar after ZEW survey

* ECB uncertainty, IMF report keep investors cautious

* Dollar gains vs yen as risk appetite, stocks rise

* BoC cuts rates, to set framework for other measures (Updates prices, adds detail, comment)

By Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK, April 21 (Reuters) - The euro rose against the U.S. dollar and yen on Tuesday as data showing sharp improvement in German investor confidence lifted stock markets and encouraged market participants to wade back into higher-risk trades.

Uncertainty about the European Central Bank's next monetary policy move, however, trimmed euro gains against the dollar, and an International Monetary Fund warning that banks may have to write down more than $4 trillion in asset values added a dash of anxiety to trading.

The euro ended the day up 0.2 percent at $1.2938 <EUR=>, rebounding from Monday's $1.2883 one-month low but off its $1.2993 session peak. It added 1 percent to 127.75 yen <EURPY=>. The dollar was up 0.8 percent at 98.73 yen <JPY=>.

The yen, battered by Japanese economic weakness, struggles when risk appetite increases and investors feel confident enough to sell it for higher-yielding currencies and assets.

Sterling rose 1.0 percent to $1.4670 <GBP=> while the dollar hit a 2-1/2-week peak against its Canadian counterpart above C$1.25 <CAD=> after Canada's central bank cut interest rates to a record low but retreated as stock markets advanced.

Investors were heartened on Tuesday by Germany's ZEW survey of investor sentiment, which rose to 13.0 this month from -3.5, the first positive reading since 2007, though FX analysts said the euro's subsequent rise may prove short-lived.

"We got a euro bounce after ZEW and there's consolidation after a horrible day yesterday in stocks, but my view is this is an opportunity to sell euros," said T.J. Marta, chief market strategist at Marta on the Markets in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.


Analysts said an IMF report that banks worldwide will have to write down assets by $4.1 trillion to restore global stability suggests the financial crisis is far from over, which will boost safe-haven demand for the dollar. For more see[ID:nN21456999].

Euro gains are also likely to be limited by uncertainty about what unconventional policy steps, if any, the ECB takes to combat a euro zone recession, Marta said.

The ECB is expected to cut interest rates from 1.25 percent to 1.0 percent in May, but it's unclear whether it will follow the Federal Reserve and other central banks and create money via other means such as buying corporate or sovereign debt.

Either way, Marta said the euro is likely to suffer. "If the ECB comes together on quantitative easing, the euro will go down because the U.S. has already started," he said. "If they don't, the euro will be punished because the ECB will be accused of not reacting to the crisis."

Quantitative easing is the process of flooding the banking system with money when interest rates are already at or near zero in order to stimulate growth and boost lending.

Dustin Reid, currency strategist at RBS Global Banking & Markets, said the euro could fall back to $1.20 by mid-year.

The Bank of Canada cut rates to 0.25 percent and said it will outline a strategy on Thursday for taking possible unconventional measures. Scotia Capital currency strategists said the bank is moving toward "more unorthodox and arguably more risky monetary policy methods."

The U.S. dollar rose to C$1.2504 <CAD=>, its highest since early April, but retreated as stock markets gained and last traded down 0.2 percent tat C$1.2360.

"The BoC undermined the currency a bit, and earlier, we had equities looking strained as some of the financial earnings had fallen short of expectations, but stocks' reversal higher has helped (the Canadian dollar recover)," said George Davis, a currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

(Additional reporting by Vivianne Rodrigues)

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