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Thursday June 18, 2009 - 10:20:20 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Swiss franc up after SNB comments; dlr creeps up

Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:30am EDT

* Swiss franc up, hits 1 mth high vs euro after SNB comments

* SNB says has been successful stemming franc's rise vs euro

* Dlr up vs euro, sterling falls sharply; U.S. data eyed

(Updates prices, changes byline, dateline; previous TOKYO)

By Jessica Mortimer

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - The Swiss franc rose on Thursday, hitting a one-month high against the euro after the Swiss National Bank said it had been successful in stemming the domestic currency's rise against the euro.

The dollar edged up against the euro as European shares turned lower .FTEU3, while sterling fell sharply after weak UK retail sales and public finance data.

SNB Governor Jean-Pierre Roth said the central bank had achieved its aim with forex intervention, and that the Swissie's appreciation against the euro and volatility had eased. [ID:nZAT010370]

The Swiss franc rose to a session high as the comments assuaged some of the concerns the SNB could intervene to curb franc strength. However, analysts said intervention could not be ruled out if the market pushed the Swiss franc too high.

"The main focus this afternoon will be on intervention ... It seems that the threat of intervention has to remain to stave off safe haven flows into the Swiss franc," said Jan Poser at Sarasin.

"They will be aiming for around 1.50 euros. If it's in danger of dropping below 1.50 they will probably intervene again or at least get the BIS (Bank for International Settlements) to intervene on their behalf."

The Swiss currency rose as high as 1.5017 francs per euro <EURCHF=R> after Roth's statement, its highest since May 15, according to Reuters data.

It pulled back from the day's low of 1.5118 francs hit after the rate decision and comments from the SNB pledging to act determinedly to prevent the currency's appreciation against the euro.

The dollar meanwhile fell 0.3 percent to a session low around 1.0768 francs <CHF=> after earlier rising past the 1.0810 franc level.


At 0922 GMT, the euro was slightly down on the day at $1.3933 <EUR=>.

The common currency, however, was comfortably above a one-month low around $1.3748 touched on Tuesday.

Markets were looking ahead to U.S. jobless claims at 1230 GMT and the Philadelphia Fed index at 1400 GMT

Wednesday's subdued U.S. inflation data the previous day had dented the U.S. currency earlier in the session as it dampened speculation of a U.S. interest rate hike by the end of the year.

Sentiment was also hurt by Standard & Poor's announcement it was lowering its credit rating on 18 U.S. banks on Wednesday, saying increased regulation and market volatility would hurt the sector. [ID:nN17353623]

Frankfurt-based Commerzbank analyst Lutz Karpowitz said traders may push the euro towards the $1.40 level against the dollar, but gains were likely to be limited as market players looked ahead to the U.S. data releases.

Sterling tumbled around 1.2 percent against the dollar to $1.6207 <GBP=D4>, however, after data showed UK retail sales fell unexpectedly in May, while public sector net borrowing rose to a record high [ID:nONS004311].

This helped the dollar rise 0.3 percent on its trade-weighted index to 80.477 .DXY.

Analysts said many investors were starting to look ahead to a Federal Reserve policy meeting, which starts on Tuesday, with the ensuing reaction in U.S. long-term yields seen as key to the near-term direction of the dollar (Reporting by Jessica Mortimer; editing by Chris Pizzey)

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