FOREX-Euro turns tail as ECB reinforces dovish slant, A$ up on Asian shares

Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:02am BST

* Euro broadly lower as ECB officials sing from same dovish sheet

* Dollar higher, ignores downgrade to Q1 GDP

* Aussie also better bid as Asian shares rebound

* Yen underpinned by data showing Japanese selling of foreign bonds

By Ian Chua

SYDNEY, June 27 (Reuters) - The euro nursed broad losses in Asian trade on Thursday as investors turned on the common currency after European Central Bank officials made clear any policy tightening remained a very distant prospect.

The Australian dollar rose modestly as Asian shares recovered after a selloff earlier this week sparked by fears of credit problems in China.

ECB President Mario Draghi, Executive Board member Yves Mersch and policymaker Christian Noyer, were all out in force on Wednesday stressing the ECB was not preparing to start winding down stimulus, in contrast to the Federal Reserve.

The euro plumbed a near four-week low near $1.2984, taking total losses since June 19 to more than 3 percent. It was last at $1.3031, up slightly from late New York levels.

Against the yen, the common currency was at 127.38 , having skidded 0.7 percent to a one-week low of 126.57 on Wednesday.

"The euro has shifted from being a relative outperformer to relative underperformer this week," BNP Paribas analysts wrote in a client note.

"A number of ECB officials have been 'on message' in stressing that policy will remain accommodative, apparently eager to draw an implicit contrast between its stance and the Fed's tapering message."

Not helping the euro, two newspapers on Wednesday warned Italy faced 8 billion euros in losses on derivative contracts restructured at the height of the euro zone crisis, prompting the country's economy minister to deny the reports.

Pressure on the euro helped the dollar index rise to 83.025 on Wednesday, a high last seen since the start of the month. It stood at 82.808, just below 61.8 percent retracement of its May-June fall at 82.97.

Traders said month and quarter-end buying further supported the U.S. dollar, which largely shrugged off a surprisingly sharp downgrade to first quarter U.S. economic growth.

The Commerce Department said gross domestic product expanded at a 1.8 percent annual pace in the quarter, compared with a previously reported 2.4 percent pace.

Traders said the data was historical and a recent batch of encouraging reports indicated that the economy was on a gradual recovery path, keeping intact expectations for the Fed to start rolling back its stimulus later this year.

The Australian dollar managed to outperform the greenback, as Asian shares showed some signs of stabilising, with regional equities posting gain of 1.9 percent.

Still some traders say concerns about a slowdown and possible credit crunch in China could keep the Aussie in check.

"There will surely by a bear market rally from time to time but I don't think investors are eager to take risk in Asia now," said a trader at a Japanese bank.

The currency is also partly helped by development in local politics.

A leadership change in the Labor Party saw Kevin Rudd return as Australian prime minister. Ousted Julia Gillard had struggled to win public support with opinion polls suggesting her minority government was headed for a massive defeat at this year's general election.

With Rudd back at the helm, the hope is there would be more stability in the Labor Party, although local politics rarely have a lasting impact on markets because the major parties are considered very middle of the road in economic policy.

The Aussie dollar rose 0.6 percent to $0.9332, near a one-week high of $0.9345 hit on Thursday.

"While some bounce in the polls and possibly confidence is expected, the political games will be largely a sideshow to deeper issues in the Australian economy. As such we expect no real change to policies or markets for the time being," said Martin Whetton, analyst at Nomura.

The dollar hardly budged against the yen, capped by data that showed large Japanese investors sold foreign bonds for six weeks in a row last week, in their largest net selling in 14 months.

The dollar was steady at 97.77 yen.

There is little in the way of major economic data in Asia, while Europe has a slew of reports including euro zone economic sentiment, consumer sentiment, German employment and import prices.