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Wednesday August 26, 2009 - 10:15:22 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro hits 2 1/2-mth high vs sterling after Ifo

Wed Aug 26, 2009 5:41am EDT

* Euro rises vs sterling, firms a touch vs dollar after Ifo

* German Ifo sentiment poll hits highest in nearly 1 year

* High yielders inch up as risk demand stays intact

(Recasts, changes byline, dateline pvs TOKYO)

By Emelia Sithole-Matarise

LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The euro hit 2-1/2 month highs against sterling on Wednesday after an improvement in German business morale reinforced signs that Europe's largest economy was recovering from recession.

The Munich-based Ifo think tank's business climate index rose to 90.5 from an upwardly revised 87.4 in July, beating an 88.9 median forecast in a Reuters poll [ID:nLQ735962].

The euro initially hit the day's high against the dollar after the data, but trimmed some gains as some analysts said the data was lower than the more bullish expectations in the market.

The euro rose to 87.85 pence against the British currency EURGBP=D4, its highest level since early June. It was last seen at 87.74 pence.

"We tend to favour positioning for a stronger euro against the pound at the moment rather than the dollar," said Lee Hardman, currency economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in London. "That's where the clearest positioning is going forward if you want to position for an earlier euro zone recovery compared to the UK."

LONG EURO PRE-DATA

By 0902 GMT, the euro was 0.2 percent up on the day at $1.4318 EUR= against the dollar.

"Everyone was expecting a good (Ifo) number and they all got a bit long of euro and euro crosses ahead of the release," a London-based trader said, explaining the pullback on euro.

Ranges were narrow with activity still low due to the holiday season in parts of the northern hemisphere.

Market participants said that a 1.78 percent rise in the Shanghai stock market .SSEC was supporting demand for riskier assets even as European shares posted slight losses .

Higher-yielding and commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar have gained and lost ground along with volatile Shanghai shares recently, with many eyes on China to help pull the global economy out of recession.

Traders said the market also wanted to see more U.S. data to follow on from larger-than-expected gains in housing and consumer confidence readings on Tuesday to support the view that the economy is on the mend. [ID:nN25205751]

U.S. data on durable goods is due at 1230 GMT, while new home sales will be released at 1400 GMT.

"The footing of the U.S. economy is not so negative but investors are cautious about taking it as a trading factor, because its private consumption and jobs market remain weak," said Kosuke Hanao, head of Treasury products sales at HSBC in Tokyo.

The dollar index .DXY, a gauge of the unit's performance against six major currencies, was little changed at 78.297.

Against the yen, the dollar was 0.2 percent lower on the day at 94.05 yen JPY=.

Despite its slight gains against the dollar, the yen slipped against currencies considered to be high-risk, with the Australian dollar rising as much as 0.4 percent to the day's high of 78.99 yen AUDJPY=R.

The Australian currency was up 0.2 percent $0.8363 AUD=D4, after starting the session in the red. (Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo, Editing by Lin Noueihed)

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