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Euro recovers ground, franc down 6% this week

The euro and the yen gained robustly against the dollar on Friday, putting the single currency on track for its first weekly rise since the middle of December.

[LONDON] The euro and the yen gained robustly against the dollar on Friday, putting the single currency on track for its first weekly rise since the middle of December.

The euro is still down more than 8 cents against the dollar since the start of this year, but the past week has seen some consolidation of the aggressive selling linked to the quantitative easing programme the European Central Bank unveiled on Jan 22.

By midday in Europe, the euro had gained 0.2 per cent against the dollar to US$1.1345, up 1.2 per cent on the week. The yen gained half a per cent to 117.69 yen per dollar.

"Some of the big moves we saw after the ECB last week came in very low liquidity," said Michael Sneyd, a currency strategist with BNP Paribas in London.

Market voices on:

"It is no surprise that some short-term investors may have taken their money off the table this week. We are still dollar bulls, I think there's a lot of investors waiting to reload (and buy more dollars)."

Despite the losses against some pairs, the dollar was on track for its seventh month of gains, by far its strongest run in the era of free-floating exchange rates. Traders said strong US growth and personal consumption numbers later on Friday could trigger more buying.

Another big trend this week has been the recovery of other major currencies against the Swiss franc, with markets increasingly convinced the Swiss National Bank is now intervening in favour of both the euro and dollar.

On Friday the franc fell past 1.05 francs per euro for the first time since the SNB dumped its 1.20 francs cap two weeks ago.

Unlike many campaigns of intervention by central banks, dealers say the SNB's buying of currencies has tended to be machine-driven and extremely difficult for even the biggest banks' dealers to see clearly.

But a rise in sight deposits last week, allied to the franc's steady rise since, solidified expectations that the SNB would act strongly to try to protect Swiss exporters from a weak euro.

"Really what we're going through now is an exercise to determine where they will draw their line in the sand," said Mr Sneyd.

"Typically in the past, they have accumulated euros and then moved some of that into dollars. We are not sure if that is what is happening here or if they are buying dollars directly."

The franc traded 6 per cent lower on the week at 1.0509 per euro, up half a per cent on the day. It fell to a two-week low of 0.9285 francs per dollar.

The next controlled currency rate in investors' sights is the Danish crown and Thomson Reuters data showed the volume of crown trades on Friday was far higher than its average for the month, though its value was little moved.

Commodity currencies were showing a touch more resilience after growing expectations of a cut in Australian interest rates next week sent the Aussie dollar to a 5-1/2-year low of US$0.7720.

The Aussie was steady at US$0.7766 by midday in London.

The New Zealand dollar dipped 0.1 per cent on the day while the Canadian dollar gained 0.3 per cent.



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