4 Min Read
* Kiwi rallies after NZ central bank signals more rate hikes
* Euro awaits speech by head of ECB, German IFO
* Yen firm as Tokyo shares slip on lack of US-Japan trade pact (Recasts, adds comments)
By Anirban Nag
LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - The euro struggled to make headway on Thursday amid caution before a speech by ECB President Mario Draghi, while the New Zealand dollar rose after the central bank raised interest rates and signalled more tightening.
After two days of gains, the euro was steady at $1.3825 , leaving it a shade firmer on the week. It could take some cues from the German Ifo survey due at 0800 GMT, but most of the focus will be on Draghi's speech, scheduled for 0900 GMT.
On Wednesday a survey showed the euro zone private sector started the second quarter on its strongest footing since 2011.
But hedge funds and speculators are betting against the euro as Draghi has warned the European Central Bank will ease policy further if the currency keeps strengthening, including the option of quantitative easing.
Other members of the ECB's Governing Council have also been vocal about the need to rein in euro strength, which has contributed to subdued inflation in the euro zone.
"The upcoming speeches by President Draghi and his Governing Council members (Klaas) Knot and (Vitor) Constancio today and tomorrow could highlight the ECB's determination to fight low inflation and, by implication, further euro appreciation," said Valentin Marinov, currency strategist at Citi.
"All that could keep euro bulls at bay for now."
There have been other factors behind the euro's strength, including renewed inflows into euro zone peripheral bonds and stocks; and the fact that euro zone banks are repaying cheaper loans to the ECB, shrinking its balance sheet at a time when the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan are expanding theirs.
Also, many euro zone banks have been cutting their presence abroad, selling assets and repatriating money to meet capital and stress test requirements. The capital inflows allow the euro zone to maintain a healthy current account balance and support the common currency.
The New Zealand dollar climbed to a one-week high of $0.8638 after the country's central bank said it would continue to tighten policy to stay on top of inflationary pressures. As expected, it hiked its cash rate to 3.0 percent from 2.75 percent.
Some in the market had thought it might signal a slowing in the pace of future rate hikes given a stubbornly strong currency and still moderate inflation. Still, analysts said further gains in the kiwi might be limited.
"We believe further NZD appreciation is likely to be capped within a cent of current rates as the tightening cycle is fairly priced," said Annette Beacher, head of Asia-Pacific research at TD Securities in Singapore.
The New Zealand dollar last traded at $0.8620, up 0.4 percent on the day.
The safe-haven yen rose against the dollar as Tokyo shares fell nearly 1 percent, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that a trade deal with the United States had not been finalised yet.
Mollifying Japan's powerful farming lobby and completing a successful trade pact is seen as a key test of whether Abe can deliver the "third arrow" - structural reform - to go with two others that have already been deployed: fiscal and monetary stimulus measures.
The dollar last fetched 102.35 yen, down 0.2 percent. (Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by John Stonestreet)