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  1. #161
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    Post Euro holds huge gains on EU optimism

    (Reuters) - The euro held huge gains in Asia on Tuesday after hopes for a new EU debt plan sparked a correction in a deeply bearish market, though sentiment remains fragile as European leaders have disappointed many times before.

    The euro rose three cents to a peak of $1.3698 on Monday, its biggest daily gain versus the U.S. dollar in 15 months. It last traded at $1.3627. It also flew to 104.99 yen, the highest in three weeks, showing a rise of 1.65 percent, before steadying at 104.46.

    The rally followed an Franco-German pledge on Sunday that they would do what is necessary to shore up banks, settle the Greek crisis and help growth in Europe.

    Commodities, stocks and high yielding currencies joined the "risk on" wave with copper close to 13 percent higher in just one week. The Australian dollar enjoyed the biggest one-day rally in over a year, surging 2.3 percent after briefly touching parity at $1.0016. It was last at $0.9980.

    The revival in risk flushed out long positions in the U.S. dollar across the board, including the Swissy. It collapsed 2.5 percent to 0.9032 francs. The dollar index fell sharply to near three-week lows at 77.561, down 1.48 percent.

    Major resistance for the euro is found at $1.3680-90, the 38.2 percent Fibonacci retracement of the $1.4550/$1.3145 move and the September 28 trend high. A clear break above $1.3700 targets $1.3845.

    Dealers were surprised by the scale of the reaction given EU leaders have disappointed many times before.

    "Unfortunately, Europe has a history of delivering far too little far too late," said Robert Rennie, chief currency strategist at Westpac.

    "Europe doesn't have the political will, the cohesion and the sense of what needs to be done."

    He said the rally was temporary and would be looking to sell the euro into strength which means in the $1.365-$1.385 range.

    Investors were looking for an excuse to price out bad news that have been gripping markets since September. While there is little doubt the problems in Europe will resurface at some stage, recent economic data was better than feared, countering the danger of a global recession.

    Traders will focus on voting in Slovakia on Tuesday, the only country among the bloc's 17 members that has yet to ratify changes to the euro zone's 440-billion-euro bailout fund. Any delay on passing the legislation could affect sentiment toward the euro. Malta gave its backing earlier on the day.

    The dollar remained stuck at 76.65 yen, within the tight 77.29-76.09 range of the past month.

    UK industrial production and minutes of the FOMC meeting will be released later on Tuesday.

    This week's focus will be on key China data with trade and CPI due Thursday and Friday. Strong trade numbers and a lower CPI would be the best combination to ease concerns of a hard landing and boost risk sentiment.

  2. #162
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    Post Wall Street holds steady, ready for earnings

    (Reuters) - U.S. stocks took a breather on Tuesday after the best five days for the S&P 500 in more than two years as investors look to earnings for a reason to extend the market's rebound.

    Stocks wavered between gains and losses throughout the session. Markets have been reacting to news from the euro zone where officials are trying to contain a debt crisis that threatens large European banks and global financial stability.

    The focus now will shift to earnings season, which begins with Alcoa Inc's (AA.N) report after the close of trading. U.S. economic indicators have shown signs of slow growth and investors are waiting to see how this has affected company profits.

    "Earnings are always important but even more so here after several quarters of solid earnings across many industry sectors. I think investors are going to want to see that continuing or solidifying itself. Otherwise you could see further selloffs," said Michael Cuggino, president and portfolio manager of Permanent Portfolio Funds in San Francisco.

    Materials stocks fell throughout the third quarter on worries about global growth slowing. Alcoa gained 2 percent to $10.30 in regular trading but is down 35 percent since the beginning of the third quarter.

    After the market closed, Alcoa said third-quarter profit jumped from a year ago, but earnings and revenue slipped from the second quarter as economic growth slowed from the first half of this year.

    A delay in a key vote by Slovakia on expanding the euro zone rescue fund has also kept investors cautious.

    With 16 of 17 euro zone states having ratified a pact to boost the size and powers of the European Financial Stability Facility bailout fund, all eyes turned to Slovakia. The country's finance minister said the country was expected to approve the changes this week.

    Any more delays in coming up with a plan intended to head off crisis could give the market an excuse to sell. Stocks have reached the top of a recent range, hitting resistance around 1,195 on the S&P 500. Another area of resistance is seen at 1,215 on the S&P 500, said Larry Peruzzi, senior equity trader at Cabrera Capital Markets Inc in Boston.

    "The bounce we've had is kind of getting us close to resistance levels ... we're looking to see if it can break through," he said.

    Apple (AAPL.O), which gained 3 percent to $400.29, lifted the Nasdaq and S&P 500.

    The Dow Jones industrial average markets/index?symbol=us%21dji">.DJI was down 16.88 points, or 0.15 percent, at 11,416.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 0.65 point, or 0.05 percent, at 1,195.54. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 16.98 points, or 0.66 percent, at 2,583.03.

    After the close, Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum company, dipped slightly $10.03 after it posted results.

    In the past week, analysts have lowered their consensus earnings estimates for Alcoa, citing a precipitous drop in metals prices in recent months sparked by global economic concerns.

    About 6.90 billion shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq for the day, well below the year's daily average so far of 8.03 billion.

    Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of roughly 16 to 13, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners by about 3 to 2.

  3. #163
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    Post Italian debt sold, China hits equities

    (Reuters) - Italy's sale of 6.2 billion euros in bonds on Thursday eased investors' immediate concerns about its funding in the euro zone debt crisis, but stock markets were hit by weaker Chinese trade data.

    European shares fell 0.9 percent after recent gains and Wall Street looked set to open lower following data showing China's trade surplus narrowed for a second straight month in September, with both imports and exports lower than expected.

    It reflected global economic weakness, which along with the euro zone debt crisis has kept investors avoiding aggressive risk taking over the past months.

    In Europe, there appeared some traction to the idea that policymakers were working on a cogent plan to solve the debt crisis, or at least reduce its threat.

    Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, outlined a broad plan on Wednesday to tackle the euro zone's two-year debt crisis, fuelling optimism.

    "Maybe the political decisions are finally coming through," said Justin Urquhart Stewart, director at Seven Investment Management.

    The sale of Italian bonds went relatively smoothly, although a lot of the buying may have been prompted by cheaper prices ahead of the sale.

    Traders said the European Central Bank began buying Italian bonds focused around the 10-year sector shortly after the release of auction results.

    Earlier 10-year yields rose to 5.87 percent, their highest since the central bank began purchasing Italian debt in August as part of an effort to cap the country's rising cost of borrowing. The 10-year yield was last at 5.80 percent, 6 basis points higher on the day.


    On stock markets, the FTSEurofirst 300 finance/markets/index?symbol=gb%21FTPP">.FTEU3 fell but was still heading for its third straight week of gains, something it has not achieved since March/April.

    World stocks as measured by MSCI .MIWD00000PUS were down a bit.

    Earlier, Japan's Nikkei .N225 rose nearly 1 percent, catching up with U.S. and European gains from Wednesday.

    The euro fell broadly, pulling back from a one-month high versus the dollar after the European Central Bank warned about the impact on the currency and the region's banks of involving bondholders in euro zone bailouts.

    The euro hit a session low of $1.3711 after an article in the ECB's monthly report said forcing private bondholders to accept losses on euro zone sovereign debt could damage the euro's reputation, prompting traders to take profits on a rally which has been built on investors backing off bets for further euro weakness rather than betting on future gains.

    The euro had rallied earlier in the week, climbing to $1.3834 on Wednesday after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy late last week said they would announce a plan to solve the euro zone debt crisis by the end of the month.

  4. #164
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    Post Global week ahead: Bright spots amidst the gloom

    (Reuters) - An improvement in manufacturing, employment and retail sales data in the United States, and mounting signs that Europe will agree on a rescue plan large enough to contain the Greek debt crisis, have lifted some of the gloom overhanging the global economy.

    But the gains are highly tentative and policy mistakes in Brussels this week could easily upend the outlook.

    Over the past three months, political gridlock in Washington over the U.S. budget deficit and infighting in European capitals resulted in the biggest falls in the prices of risk assets since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008.

    Global stock prices have since stabilized, and in Europe even posted gains over the past week, easing fears that the developed world would drive the global economy off a cliff.

    "Despite the dark policy backdrop, not all is bad," said Joachim Fels, head of global economics at Morgan Stanley.

    Energy and commodity prices also have fallen sharply, boosting spending power, particularly in the United States where crude oil has tumbled 14 percent since July.

    The relaunch of unusual liquidity measures by the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and Bank of England has alleviated strains in bank funding and calmed markets, buying politicians some extra time to sort out their fiscal woes.

    "Things are looking a little bit brighter out there, but there are still enormous out-sized risks," said Nigel Gault, U.S. chief economist for IHS Global Insight.

    Prime among them is Europe. If European Union leaders fail at their summit next weekend to deliver a comprehensive plan to resolve its sovereign debt crisis and recapitalize its banks, market volatility will return with a vengence, analysts warn.

    Even the extraordinary steps that central banks have taken to prevent the crisis worsening have brought large risks.

    Global liquidity, as measured by foreign exchange reserves and central bank balance sheets, has soared to $18.3 trillion, equal to 30 percent of global GDP, from $10.4 trillion three years ago, Bank of America/Merril Lynch has estimated. This massive monetary policy easing has stirred inflationary fears.

    There is only one solution. "Better policy decisions on both sides of the Atlantic are needed to get us out of this fix," said Fels.

    Otherwise the negative feedback loop will resume, where bad policy decisions intensify risk aversion and worsen the sovereign debt crisis by destabilizing financial markets, undermining bank solvency, and upending world economic growth.


    In the United States, there are few signals that lawmakers have the appetite for a medium-term resolution to the budget deficit before November 2012 elections.

    The U.S. Senate this week rejected President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs package after disagreement over how to fund the minor stimulus measure, with two Democrats facing tough re-election joining Republicans.

    Senators next week may agree to vote on some piecemeal jobs measures such as extending jobless benefits and cutting payroll taxes.

    Joel Prakken, economist at Macroeconomic Advisers in St. Louis, calculates that extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless would add 0.25 percent to real GDP growth in 2012, and support 200,000 jobs. Continuing the payroll tax holiday for employees would add 0.50 percent to GDP over the year and raise employment by 600,000, he said.

    "It is modest at best," Prakken said.

    But combined with recent improvements in auto sales, retail sales in August and September, and better manufacturing and employment reports, the U.S. economy looks on more solid footing than a few months ago, he said.

    That would be good news for China, which relies heavily on its exports to the United States and where economic growth is clearly slowing. The question is by how much.

    Figures on Tuesday are expected to show China's third-quarter GDP up 9.2 percent from a year earlier, according to a Reuters poll of economists. That would be down only modestly from the second quarter, when China recorded 9.5 percent growth.

    A less closely watched indicator, urban investment, may provide a better signal. Last week's disappointing trade figures underscored China's vulnerability to a global slowdown. Domestic growth has cushioned the blow so far, and investment is a big reason why.

    The data on Tuesday is expected to show urban investment up 24.8 percent from a year earlier, only slightly below the second quarter's 25 percent rise. If external demand weakens dramatically, economists think China will compensate by ramping up investment, which accounts for the bulk of its GDP.

  5. #165
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    Post Euro off 1-mth high as crisis plan optimism ebbs

    Euro off 1-mth high after Germany undercuts hope on crisis plan

    * Short-covering of euro may ebb, positions seen more square

    * Bearish engulfing candlestick may bode ill for euro -trader

    * Traders cite talk some offshore funds turning bearish on yen

    SINGAPORE, Oct 18 (Reuters) - The euro rose on Tuesday but remained below the previous day's one-month high, having taken a hit after Germany tempered hopes that European leaders would soon come up with a quick, comprehensive solution to the euro zone's debt crisis.

    The euro regained some ground after a 1 percent drop the previous day, with market positioning and some technical signals suggesting that its recent short-covering rally may be running out of steam.

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble poured cold water on the euro's rally on Monday, saying an Oct. 23 European Union summit would not provide a "definitive solution" to the region's debt crisis.

    While some gauges of market positioning suggest speculators may still be short the euro, the amount of their euro bearish bets is likely to have declined over the course of the recent rally, and the euro may now be more vulnerable.

    "The rise we saw recently was just a result of markets having gotten ahead of themselves," said Daisuke Karakama, market economist for Mizuho Corporate Bank in Tokyo.

    "I think we will start to see it fade," Karakama said, referring to the euro's recent upward momentum. "The euro's outlook from here looks weak," Karakama added.

    The euro edged up 0.3 percent from late U.S. trade on Monday to $1.3780 , but remained below a one-month high around $1.3914 hit on Monday on trading platform EBS.

    Traders said there were a mixture of buy orders and stop-loss offers in the euro at levels below $1.3750.

    Risky assets and the euro have bounced in the past week as investors pared bearish bets after the leaders of Germany and France pledged to unveil a comprehensive package by the end of the month to resolve the euro zone's debt crisis, including an agreement on how to recapitalise banks.

    While European leaders may decide on an overall stance to beef up banks' capital at the Oct. 23 EU summit, they will probably opt to decide on specifics at a later date, said Mizuho Corporate Bank's Karakama.

    In any event, efforts to recapitalise euro zone banks can carry a cost. If countries in the euro zone were to shoulder the burden their fiscal conditions could worsen, and if money from the euro zone's EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) rescue fund were to be used, that could rekindle the issue of whether the size of the rescue fund is sufficient, Karakama added.

    The Australian dollar edged up 0.4 percent to $1.0218 , supported by short-covering after a 1.7 percent drop the previous day. The Aussie dollar has retreated after hitting a one-month high of $1.0372 on Monday.

    A batch of Chinese data were broadly in line with market expectations, confirming that China's economic growth was moderating but not weakening sharply, and had limited impact on the Australian dollar.

    The Aussie dollar can be sensitive to shifts in China's economic fundamentals since China is a major buyer of Australia's commodity exports.


    In a development that could come back to haunt the euro in coming months, Moody's warned on Monday it may slap a negative outlook on France's Aaa credit rating in the next three months if the country fails to make progress on crucial fiscal and economic reforms.

    One factor that may bode ill for the euro in the near-term outlook is a bearish engulfing candlestick pattern that appeared on charts on Monday, said Tsutomu Soma, senior manager for Okasan Securities' foreign securities department in Tokyo.

    The euro may come under pressure if it drops below last Friday's intraday low near $1.3720, Soma said.

    A bearish engulfing candlestick pattern appears on a day when a currency closes below its opening level, after an opposite move the day before. In addition, the gap between the opening and closing levels must be wider than the previous day.

    When such a pattern appears after an uptrend, it can be a sign that the trend may start to reverse.

    The dollar held steady against the yen at 76.84 , having hit a one-month high near 77.48 yen last week.

    "We've heard a number of funds and a number of investors talking about going long dollar/yen," said Rob Ryan, FX strategist at BNP Paribas in Singapore.

    Still, it is unclear what types of factors may push dollar/yen higher at this stage, Ryan said. For example, it seems unlikely that Japanese institutional investors will turn aggressive about taking on foreign exchange risk when the yield gap between Japanese and U.S. bonds is pretty narrow.

    Indeed, Japan's Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance has said it will cut its net buying of U.S. and German bonds in the half-year to March from its original plan and shift to domestic bonds instead as the yield gap between overseas and Japanese bonds has narrowed sharply.

    "We've gone short from 77.40, we're looking for a break lower," said Ryan at BNP Paribas.

  6. #166
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    Post EU short of time as Spain downgraded

    (Reuters) - A double-notch downgrade to Spain's credit ratings has piled more pressure on European leaders to make rapid progress on solving the region's debt crisis or face unbearable borrowing costs.

    The fresh blow from Moody's Investors Service came just a day after the agency warned France its triple-A rating could be at risk and overshadowed a report that Germany and France were nearer a deal on leveraging the euro zone's rescue fund.

    "If the euro zone can't figure a way to handle the situation, you are going to see Spanish yields continue to go up, and they are going to have a problem to funding themselves," said Jessica Hoversen, currency and fixed income analyst at MF Global in New York.

    Investors are counting down to a summit of EU leaders this weekend that was originally hailed as a watershed event.

    Britain's Guardian newspaper on Tuesday said Germany and France had agreed to leverage the euro zone's bailout fund to over 2 trillion euros as part of a "comprehensive plan" but a senior euro zone source poured cold water on the report, telling Reuters that there had been no mention of such a deal.

    The report initially caused a sharp rally in shares and the euro, only to be snuffed out by the downgrade to Spain.

    Moody's cut the country's bond rating to A1, from Aa2, the third of the major agencies to act in recent weeks and taking it a notch below the ratings of Standard & Poor's and Fitch.

    Moody's reasoning made worrying reading for those hoping for a speedy resolution to country's troubles.

    "Since placing the ratings under review in late July 2011, no credible resolution of the current sovereign debt crisis has emerged and it will in any event take time for confidence in the area's political cohesion and growth prospects to be fully restored," the agency said.

    In the meantime, Spain's large sovereign borrowing needs, heavily indebted banking system and challenging growth outlook left it vulnerable to further downgrades, a judgment that would encompass all too many of EU members.


    The Guardian, citing senior European Union diplomats, had reported the euro zone would endorse a five-fold increase in the 440-billion-euro bailout fund to help troubled governments and banks survive should Greece or any other member default.

    The much-touted idea would be for the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to insure the first 20-30 percent of any losses on new government debt.

    Brian Dolan, chief strategist at in Bedminster, New Jersey, said an expanded $2 trillion bailout fund would be about the right size to restore come confidence.

    But he added: "I have to take it with a grain of salt. We've seen a lot of these European reports that something was imminent only to be disappointed the next morning."

    Indeed, German policy makers have been doing their best to play down the chances of a ground-breaking deal anytime soon.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday warned that leaders would not solve the debt crisis at a single meeting.

    "These sovereign debts have been built up over decades and therefore one cannot resolve them with one summit but it will take difficult, long-term work. Nonetheless, I do think we will also be able to take relevant, important decisions," she said.

    Markets have been on edge for fear European leaders would not agree on a plan to address the crisis, which has already forced Greece, Ireland and Portugal to seek bailouts and has driven up borrowing costs in Italy and Spain.

    France saw its borrowing costs jump on Tuesday after Moody's warned it may slap a negative outlook on the country's Aaa rating in the next three months if slower growth and the costs of helping to bail out banks stretch its budget too much.

    Economy Minister Francois Baroin insisted the rating was not at risk but acknowledged that the 1.75 percent growth forecast on which the government had based its 2012 budget was over-optimistic and would have to be revised down.

    "The triple-A is not in danger because we will be even ahead of schedule on passing deficit reduction measures," Baroin said on France 2 television.

    "We will do everything to avoid being downgraded."

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    Post Nikkei gains on euro zone bailout hopes

    (Reuters) - The Nikkei stock average rose on Wednesday after a media report raised expectations that Europe will act to strengthen the euro zone's rescue fund, though skepticism about whether it can put such a bold step into practice limited further gains.

    The market also lacked momentum on caution about a mixed batch of U.S. earnings after Apple (AAPL.O) reported a rare miss in quarterly results, with sales of its flagship iPhone falling short of Wall Street expectations.

    The Nikkei finance/markets/index?symbol=jp%21n225">.N225 was up 0.6 percent at 8,789.83 by the lunch break, while the broader Topix index .TOPX gained 0.3 percent to 754.04. Trade was extremely light, with turnover at 398 billion yen at midday, just 4 percent above the same time on Tuesday, when it hit the lowest level since December.

    Wall Street rallied in its last hour of trade on Tuesday after Britain's Guardian newspaper said France and Germany will increase the euro zone's rescue fund to 2 trillion euros as part of a plan to resolve the sovereign debt crisis.

    A senior euro zone source told Reuters there had been no mention of such a deal and many market players doubt whether such a huge increase is immediately possible given how policymakers have had a tough time getting the current 440 billion euro bailout scheme ratified in the euro bloc.

    "If they can boost the bailout fund to 2 trillion euro, that would be a perfect score markets have been looking for. But the reality is that will be difficult to pull off," said Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

    While the news prompted short position holders to cover their positions, many investors are still not excited, as manifested in low trading volume, and they preferred to wait until what European leaders will do at their summit on Sunday.

    "I'm sure there will be a lot of headlines on the euro zone plan toward the summit and speculators will jump on them, swinging the market this way or that. But real money investors are waiting for the summit. That's why volume is slow," said Mitsubishi's Fujito.

    Apple's (AAPL.O) latest results undermined tech shares, although an upbeat earning forecast from Intel Corp (INTC.O) helped counter the impact.

    Ibiden (4062.T), a major supplier of integrated circuit packages to the U.S. firm, rose 2.9 percent to 1,896 yen.

    Olympus (7733.T) remained the most actively traded share on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board for the fourth day in a row as the company suffers from allegations by its former CEO that it made improper M&A fee payments.

    Olympus fell 3.2 percent to 1,372 yen, though it has so far managed to stay above Tuesday's 2- year low of 1,281 yen.

    Some players were short-selling the stock aggressively while there were bids from investors who saw value in the company's strength in its endoscope business.

    Still, doubts about the company's governance is making the stock untouchable for many investors.

    "Foreign investors had snatched up the shares after they hired a foreign CEO and they haven't offloaded their holdings yet," said a trader at a Japanese firm.

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    Post Euro flat on doubts over EU delivering crisis plan

    (Reuters) - The euro was little changed against the dollar and yen on Wednesday due to nagging doubts that European leaders will take aggressive steps at a summit this weekend to resolve the region's debt crisis.

    Officials dismissed a report in Britain's Guardian newspaper on Tuesday that France and Germany had agreed to a deal enlarging the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), while French President Nicolas Sarkozy said talks to boost the bailout fund have stalled. But investors still clung to the newspaper report as a reason to pare back bets against the euro.

    Optimism that a definitive plan would be in place by a European Union summit on Sunday had sparked a rally in the euro last week from 8-1/2-month lows. Germany later tamped down enthusiasm by saying the summit would not provide an ultimate solution to the debt crisis.

    "At the end of the day, the market is nervous, waiting to see anything substantial coming out of the summit," said Tom Fitzpatrick, chief technical strategist at CitiFX in New York. "We are getting to a point that there have been so many false promises so they really need to deliver something big."

    The euro was last up 0.09 percent at $1.37480 after bouncing between $1.3735 and $1.3870 on trading platform EBS. It touched a one-month high of $1.39148 on Monday.

    Wavering confidence about a crisis plan has increased the euro's volatility against the dollar this week. The one-month euro/dollar volatility index ended flat on Wednesday but is up 2.4 percent so far on the week.

    The Guardian, citing senior European Union diplomats, said the euro zone would endorse a five-fold increase in the 440 billion euro bailout fund.

    But a senior euro zone source told Reuters there had been no mention of such a deal. A spokesman for the German Finance Ministry said the bailout fund will not be raised beyond the 440 billion euros already approved nor will Germany's participation rise beyond 211 billion euros.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked down expectations of a deal for a "bazooka" solution coming out of the summit, adding that past errors will not be solved in one stroke.

    Germany, the euro zone's strongest economy, has been reluctant to back aggressive measures to contain the crisis due to worries it has already overextended itself as its economy is slowing.


    As traders struggle to position for this weekend's EU summit, analysts said there are positive factors for the euro.

    Chris Turner, FX strategist at ING, said demand to cover short positions in the euro remained high given that the average entry level of such positions in September was around $1.37. The euro's rally above $1.39 earlier this week put investors at risk of a loss on those positions.

    Going into the summit, Turner said, the euro may rally toward $1.40 if more mainstream press reports suggest EU leaders are nearing agreement to take decisive actions.

    The euro briefly extended gains against the dollar after data showing U.S. housing starts in September topped expectations boosted the appetite for risk.

    Sovereign demand from the Middle East and Asia likely also boosted the euro, traders said, although some doubted it was the dominant driver behind gains.

    Against the yen, the euro was up 0.09 percent to 105.61 yen, paring earlier gains.

    The single European currency rose 0.5 percent against the Swiss franc to 1.2418 francs, having hit 1.2475 on EBS, the highest level in five months, on persistent, though unconfirmed, market talk of the Swiss National Bank raising the euro/Swiss target rate from 1.20 francs.

    Investors shrugged off a double-notch downgrade of Spain's debt rating.

    The dollar index was flat at 77.112, while the greenback was flat against the yen at 76.80 yen.

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    Post Gold edges up on arbitrage buying

    (Reuters) - Gold prices rebounded on Friday, boosted by arbitrage buying interest from Shanghai market, but gains could be limited as uncertainty remains on whether European policymakers would agree on a definitive solution to euro zone's debt crisis.

    Deep division among European leaders on strengthening the bloc's rescue fund has dampened hopes that Europe was close to finding a solution, rattling commodities and sending gold down more than 1 percent in the previous session.

    Conflicting voices from the euro zone over the past few days have directed the ups and downs of the financial market, and participants are now eyeing the European Union summit this Sunday for further trading cues.

    The sharp price drop in the previous session has provided an opportunity for arbitrage trading from Shanghai market, traders said. The most-active Shanghai gold futures contract traded around 336 yuan a gram, or $1,638 an ounce, at a premium of $13 over spot gold prices.

    "There was quite some buying from Shanghai after market opened there," said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals in Hong Kong.

    "Prices appear to be consolidating within the range of $1,550 and $1,700."

    Spot gold gained 0.4 percent $1,625.12 an ounce by 0253 GMT, but was headed for a drop of 3.2 percent from a week earlier, its biggest weekly decline in nearly a month.

    U.S. gold rose as much as 1.1 percent to $1,630.9, before easing to $1,626.90, on course for a 3.3 percent weekly decline.

    Technical analysis suggested spot gold could rebound to $1,650 during the day, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.


    The price dip to near $1,600 in the previous session triggered some physical buying, dealers said.

    "There was a fair bit of buying but nothing frantic," said a Singapore-based dealer. "Perhaps the market is expecting a lower price to come."

    Physical demand in Asia, mainly India and China, has entered its traditional peak season of the year, but such demand alone is unlikely to lift prices above the current range.

    "The main drivers behind prices still remain in the ETF holdings, hedge funds and COMEX market," said the dealer.

    Holdings in the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, have remained constant at 1,227.511 tonnes for the past five sessions, down a modest 4.4 tonnes from the end of September.

    And holdings of the world's largest silver-backed exchange-traded fund, iShares Silver Trust, edged lower from the previous session to 9,874.05 tonnes, lowest in nearly a month, as silver prices retreated 23 percent from a month earlier.

    Spot silver inched up half a percent to $30.65, on course for a weekly decline of 4.7 percent, its biggest one-week fall in a month.

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    Post Risk rally hammers dollar, yen hits record high

    (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar fell broadly on Friday and hit a record low against the yen on hopes Europe was closer to solving its debt crisis and talk the Federal Reserve may take new measures to boost growth.

    France and Germany said in a joint statement that European leaders would discuss a solution to the crisis on Sunday, but no decisions would be adopted before a second meeting to be held by Wednesday at the latest.

    Optimism European leaders will take more measures to contain the crisis kept investor appetite for risk alive, sending U.S. stocks sharply higher and dampening demand for the safe-haven greenback.

    Adding to losses in the dollar, Fed Board Governor Daniel Tarullo said Thursday there is need for additional stimulus measures and the Fed should consider buying more mortgage bonds to boost the weak housing sector and economy. Fed easing is seen negative for the dollar because it lowers U.S. yields.

    "It is very much a dollar negative environment. Risk is on," said Brian Dolan, chief currency strategist at in Bedminster, New Jersey.

    Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar last traded down 0.8 percent at 76.357, having hit a low of 76.249, the lowest level since mid-September.

    Paresh Upadhyaya, head of Americas G10 FX strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York, said the currency market followed equity prices.

    The U.S. dollar has shown a strong inverse relationship with stocks in recent trading. The 25-day correlation between the dollar index and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index hit negative 0.927 on Friday.

    The euro rose 0.7 percent to $1.3876, having hit $1.3900 on Reuters data and recovering from a low of $1.3703.

    "The market is giving the benefit of the doubt that they are going to come up with some sort of a meaningful stop gap measure in Europe," said Boris Schlossberg, director of currency research at GFT in New York.

    But Bank of America's Upadhyaya said: "whatever might be announced, I don't think it would be enough to satisfy the markets." He expects the euro/dollar to decline to $1.30 by the end of the year.

    The euro dropped 0.3 percent to 105.58 yen. It also slipped 0.3 percent against sterling and lost 0.6 percent versus the Swiss francs.


    The dollar fell as low as 75.78 yen on trading platform EBS, surpassing its previous record low of 75.941 set in August, bringing back into focus the threat of official intervention to weaken the Japanese currency.

    Traders reported initial large selling of dollars from a U.K. clearer and macro funds, and losses accelerated after the pair broke through a series of stops around 76.30 and 75.90.

    It last traded down 0.9 percent at 76.18 yen, coming off lows on reported buying from Japanese banks at the 76.00 level. At current levels, it was on pace for its biggest daily fall since August 26.

    Talk that Japanese authorities may follow the footsteps of the Swiss National Bank in putting a floor in dollar/yen had buoyed the currency pair in recent sessions, but investors resumed yen buying after market speculation failed to materialize.

    "I do think we are increasingly vulnerable to (Bank of Japan) interference. Irrespective of whether it's going to be effective or not, they're going to come in at 75," said GFT's Schlossberg.

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