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Monday June 22, 2009 - 11:20:27 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro slides ahead of ECB refi op; Fed awaited

FOREX-Euro slides ahead of ECB refi op; Fed awaited

Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:44am EDT

* Euro dips to session low of $1.3835 EUR=

* Euro sold on uncertainty before ECB 1-yr refi operation

* German June Ifo business climate index at 85.9

* Market wary before Fed meeting, U.S. debt auctions

(Changes byline, adds quote, updates prices)

By Farah Master

LONDON, June 22 (Reuters) - The euro fell against the dollar and yen on Monday, and higher-yielding and commodity-linked currencies also slipped on investor concern for global growth prospects.

The euro came under pressure as the market awaited the European Central Bank's first ever one-year refinancing operation on Wednesday aimed at getting banks lending again and reducing the cost of borrowing for banks, firms and consumers.

"I think the market is just cautious ahead of the ECB refinancing operation and what it will mean for rates," said Audrey Childe-Freeman, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.

The euro remained under pressure even after data showed a stronger-than-expected reading in German business sentiment.

"It was overall mildly positive but the fact that the current assessment index is failing to show any improvements suggests yes, sentiment is improving but we are still in contraction in terms of activity levels," said Childe-Freeman.

Data on Monday showed German Ifo business climate index rose to 85.9 in June from 84.3 the previous month, beating forecasts of 85.2. The current conditions index was at 82.4, versus a forecast of 83.1. [ID:nBAE001669]

"The worst should be over but the ongoing improvement is likely to be too weak to seriously discuss a recovery," said Carsten Brzeski, economist at ING Financial Markets.

By 1032 GMT, the euro was down 0.7 percent at $1.3847 EUR= after hitting a session low of $1.3835, according to Reuters data. It was down 1 percent against the yen at 132.82 yen EURJPY=R.

Traders also cited a Wall Street Journal article about Germany's widening budget shortfall as an excuse to sell euros, while renewed concerns about the banking sector in the euro zone also weighed on the single currency.

Meanwhile, ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny was quoted on Monday as saying the central bank was likely to keep interest rates on hold for the rest of this year.

"If the economy is developing in the way that we expect, I do not see a perspective for this year and we will need to look again next year," he told news agency Bloomberg.

Such a view confirmed market expectations after the ECB kept interest rates at a record low 1 percent earlier this month.

Markets have drifted in the past few days as investors are still trying to decide if a three-month rally in riskier assets, including shares, has outrun the pace at which the global economy is healing.

The Australian dollar fell 1.2 percent to $0.7960 AUD=D4 while it fell 1.5 percent against the yen to 76.38 yen AUDJPY=R.

The New Zealand dollar fell 1.1 percent to $0.6351 NZD=.

News that ratings firm Moody's had warned California it faced a "multi-notch" downgrade in its credit rating if it failed to act quickly to produce a budget had also fuelled investor unwillingness to hold riskier positions, one trader said. [ID:nN19449273]

The dollar was down 0.3 percent at 96.00 yen JPY=, after falling to around 95.80 yen earlier.

The U.S. Federal Reserve's policy-setting Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday and the market is expecting the central bank to give a slightly brighter economic view while watching whether it will address a recent rise in Treasury debt yields, and its debt buyback programme.

Markets will also keep an eye on a record $104 billion in U.S. Treasury debt to be auctioned this week. (Reporting by Farah Master)

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