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Tue 5 Jul 2011 12:03 PM

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Euro backs off one-month high on dollar short squeeze

Euro may rebound to consolidate around $1.45 for a possible retest of June peak near $1.47

Euro backs off one-month high on dollar short squeeze
GLOBAL CURRENCY Analysts warned that sentiment for the dollar could deteriorate further as the market focus shifts from Greece to the US debt ceiling (Bloomberg Images)

The euro looked set to snap a six-day winning streak on Tuesday, coming off nearly one-month highs against the dollar as the greenback was bought back broadly on a flurry of stop-loss buying and short-covering by macro-funds.

Some traders cited talk that US companies such as Pfizer could repatriate dollars earned overseas to take advantage of a proposed US tax break as helping to push the euro below $1.4500.

Chinese media reports about a possible rate rise in China this weekend, as well as a Moody's report saying the scale of problem loans at local governments in China may be much bigger than previously thought, also weighed on risk appetite and supported the dollar, they said.

The dollar received additional overall support from its advance against the Aussie after the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its key cash rate unchanged at 4.75 percent, citing sluggishness in the economy outside the booming mining sector.

The Aussie slipped below its 55-day moving average to as low as $1.0664 , its lowest since June 29. The Aussie was down 0.7 percent at $1.0674 by late Asian trade.

"The dollar was bought broadly. Speculation over possible repatriation by US corporations and the dollar's firmness against the Australian dollar after the RBA's decision helped it," said Tohru Sasaki, head of Japan rates and forex research at JPMorgan Chase Bank in Tokyo.

"The dollar is being bought back on a correction, but the underlying trend still hasn't changed as the dollar could come under renewed selling pressure once the current corrective buying is completed," Sasaki said.

The euro was down 0.4 percent at $1.4478. It hit an Asian session low of $1.4465 after stops were taken out around $1.4480. Analysts say $1.4430-50 will be a crucial support area.

The common currency rallied 2.5 percent last week in its best weekly performance since January. It suffered a brief setback on Monday after Standard & Poor's warned it would treat a rollover of privately held Greek debt now being discussed as a selective default.

S&P's warning came after Greece secured a 12 billion euro loan to avert immediate default. However, it still needs a second aid package worth some 120 billion euros, which euro zone finance ministers said a would be finalised by mid-September.

Market players said the euro will likely rebound to consolidate around $1.4500 for a possible retest of the June peak near $1.4700, particularly if the European Central Bank (ECB) raises rates on Thursday and signals more tightening.

"It's hard to sell the euro aggressively before the ECB meeting, as the ECB is still likely to do more tightening after the July hike with the RBA seen standing pat for now. There will be bids below $1.45," said a trader for a Japanese bank.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback's performance against a basket of major currencies, bounced off one-month lows to trade at 74.493, up 0.3 percent from Monday's trough of 74.133.

Still, many players remain bearish about the dollar's prospects.

HSBC analysts warned that sentiment for the dollar could deteriorate further as the market focus shifts from Greece to the US debt ceiling. Congress has until August 2 to approve new borrowing and avoid a default.

"During the recent Greek crisis EUR-USD barely broke 1.40 (low 1.3971), and our big concern is that if the market's focus shifts intensely to the US debt problem then the USD could come under severe pressure," the analysts wrote in a report.

"With this in the market's mind, we expect the market will try to sell the USD until the debt ceiling issue is resolved."

Against the yen, the dollar rose 0.4 percent to 81.05 but stayed stuck in its 79.80-81.30 yen range of the past few weeks.

The dollar rose as far as 81.12 yen but met offers from Japanese exporters and profit-taking by retail investors, traders said.

Among commodity currencies, the New Zealand dollar bounded to its highest since 1981 as bulls drove it through a big buy-stop level, before it slipped into negative territory on the US currency's broad gains.

The kiwi spiked to around $0.8332, helped in part by an upbeat survey of business confidence, before slipping to around $0.8288 .