REFILE-FOREX-Euro hits 2-month low; Greece, 'fiscal cliff' weigh

Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:29pm IST

* Uncertainty about Greek aid weighs on euro

* Germany wants to bundle Greek aid - source

* Weak ZEW data highlights problems facing Germany

* Fears about U.S. "fiscal cliff" favor dollar

By Julie Haviv

NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - The euro slumped to its lowest level against the dollar in over two months on Tuesday on disappointment over a delay in aid to debt-stricken Greece and worries about a U.S. fiscal crisis.

The euro has lost value against the safe-haven dollar in seven of nine trading sessions in November, notching roughly a 2 percent loss.

Greece's international lenders gave the country more time to fix its budget, though they didn't disburse the aid Greece had hoped to use to refinance 5 billion euros of its debt pile by Friday.

The euro briefly rose after a German government source said European countries deliberating on payments to Greece could bundle several tranches together into a single payment of more than 44 billion euros.

But the euro remained vulnerable to uncertainty over funding for the debt-stricken country. Asked about the report, a German finance ministry spokeswoman said no final decision had been made on Greek loans.

"There is quite a long list of worries at the moment, with the overall backdrop risk-negative," said Vassili Serebriakov, fx strategist at BNP Paribas in New York.

"There is no Greece resolution and it looks like some of the critical details for receiving more aid have been pushed to the end of this month," he said. "It is also unclear if Spain will request a bailout and on top of that we have a looming U.S. 'fiscal cliff.'"

Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday the ministers would meet again on Nov. 20, though officials said more talks could be needed the following week to cement a deal.

The euro should gain if Spain requests a bailout because it would set the stage for the European Central Bank to buy its debt to lower its borrowing costs.

The euro was last down 0.1 percent at $1.2694, having earlier dropped to $1.2660, its lowest since Sept. 7, in reaction to an inconclusive euro zone finance ministers' meeting and weak German data.

A weak German ZEW sentiment survey heightened concerns about the impact of the euro zone crisis on Europe's largest economy and knocked the euro.

"If there are signs that Greece could get a disbursement before they run dry of money that would give the euro a boost," said Dag Muller, technical analyst at SEB.

But he said the euro could stall ahead of chart resistance around $1.2850-$1.2900. SEB forecast the euro would rise to $1.32 by the end of the year, although Muller said this was conditional on Greece getting the funding it needs.

Finance ministers said Greece should be given until 2022 to lower its debt to GDP ratio to 120 percent, but International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde insisted the existing target of 2020 should remain.

BNP Paribas' Serebriakov said the euro could fall to $1.26, but believes it should rise by the end of the year.

"Once all of the market uncertainties are resolved the euro could easily rise above $1.30 and we expect the euro to hit $1.35 by the end of the year," he said.

Under the terms of its second bailout program, Greece was due to receive 31.2 billion euros by the end of June, plus an additional 5 billion by the end of September and 7.2 billion euros by the end of December.

The source in Germany said these three payments could be combined to avoid stoking uncertainty with further deliberations on tranches in the coming weeks and months.

The lack of a fresh aid payment meant Greece had to roll over short-term borrowing. It sold 4.062 billion euros of treasury bills on Tuesday, not enough to finance a 5 billion issue maturing on Friday.

The safe-haven U.S. dollar has been buoyed by worries over the U.S. "fiscal cliff," a series of massive budget cuts and tax hikes that will take effect if Congress cannot agree on a deal by the end of the year.

The dollar index was up 0.1 percent at 81.128, having earlier hit a two-month high of 81.241.

Against the yen, the dollar was flat at 79.48, according to Reuters data.

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