FOREX-Euro hits 3-week high vs dlr, Aussie at parity

* Euro hits three-week high, Aussie back above parity vs USD

* But S&P warns on Belgian ratings, pulling euro off highs

* FOMC expected to stick with QE mantra

(Adds quote, detail)

By Neal Armstrong

LONDON, Dec 14 (BestGrowthStock) – The euro hit three-week highs
versus the dollar and yen in thin trade on Tuesday, as investors
took the view that a recent rise in front-end U.S. yields had
gone too far, prompting a squeeze of euro shorts.

The Australian dollar jumped to a one-month high above
parity with the U.S. dollar, helped by a rise in prices of gold
and other commodities such as copper and by broad dollar
weakness.

Traders said investors were trimming positions ahead of a
U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting later on Tuesday.

The dollar’s decline this week has coincided with a pullback
in U.S. Treasury yields and a Moody’s warning it could move a
step closer to cutting the U.S. triple-A credit rating if a tax
and unemployment benefit package becomes law. [ID:nN13105751]

“We are still seeing the fallout from the potential
extension of a U.S. stimulus package, which has switched the
near-term focus for the dollar from a pro-growth story to
worries about fiscal stability,” said Lee Hardman, currency
analyst at BTM-UFJ.

The euro edged off highs, however, after the S&P rating
agency said Belgium’s sovereign debt could be downgraded within
six months, reminding investors of the risk of contagion from
the euro zone crisis. [ID:nWEA7396]

The euro (EUR=: ) rallied to $1.3500 on EBS trading platform,
up 0.7 percent on the day, its highest since Nov. 23, having
opened the week in Asia around $1.3205. It broke above key
resistance at $1.3475, the 38.2 percent retracement of the
euro’s November decline.

The euro also hit a three-week high at 112.22 yen
(EURJPY=R: ), shrugging off the weaker-than-forecast current
conditions element of the German ZEW survey. [ID:nDEP003410]

By 1220 GMT it had edged back to $1.3465 and to 111.80 yen.

Traders reported euro/dollar stop-loss orders lurking at and
above $1.3500, adding the rally looked to be driven by
speculators in a thin year-end market.

“The recent rise in front-end U.S. yields looks overdone as
core inflation isn’t going to pick up quickly,” said Gavin
Friend, currency strategist at nabCapital.

“Also euro zone bond spreads seem to have stabilised on the
back of the recent ECB buying which has helped the euro.

The European Central Bank stepped up its purchases of
government bonds last week, although the amount bought was still
well below levels reached last spring.

The dollar fell broadly, hitting a three-week low versus a
currency basket at 78.819 (.DXY: ). It slipped 0.5 percent to
82.97 yen (JPY=: ) after eroding demand at 83.00.

U.S. YIELDS FALL BEFORE FOMC

Buyers for U.S. bonds emerged after benchmark Treasury
yields surged to six-month highs on Monday. This helped knock
the 10-year yield down to 3.285 percent from 3.39 percent
(US10YT=RR: ). [US/]

U.S. policymakers were expected to reaffirm the Fed’s
quantitative easing policy while acknowledging some recent
better economic data. [ID:nFEDAHEAD]

“The Fed will continue ploughing on with its QE stance. It
won’t divert from its intention to buy $600 billion in
government debt until next spring at least,” Friend said.

The Australian dollar rose to a one-month high of $1.0017
against the U.S. dollar (AUD=D4: ), helped by strong buying by a
UK bank.

FOREX-Euro hits 3-week high vs dlr, Aussie at parity