FOREX-Euro up from 2-month low but Greece, Spain weigh

Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:40pm IST

* Uncertainty over Greek aid continues

* EU and IMF clash over Greece

* 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 rose against the dollar on Tuesday on hopes of a resolution to the Greek debt crisis, rebounding from a two-month low.

But disappointment over a delay in Greek aid, uncertainty about Spain's request for a bailout and fears over a U.S. fiscal crisis should limit the currency's upside.

Market uncertainty has caused the euro to lose value against the safe-haven dollar in six of nine trading sessions in November, for roughly a 1.9 percent loss.

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

A German newspaper report that Germany wants to bundle Greek aid into a single payment of more than 44 billion euros caused the euro to bounce off a two-month low. Traders interpreted the report, which cited government sources, as a sign that the euro zone's paymaster was eager to see a resolution.

"People want closure on so many things, namely clarification on Greece and a resolution on Spain," said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

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 up 0.1 percent at $1.2714, having earlier dropped to $1.2660, its lowest since Sept. 7.

"Also, with U.S. fiscal cliff negotiations about to get underway the euro will be prone to bouts of consolidation," Chandler said. "Those negotiations should be ripe with brinkmanship and I think we will hit the 'fiscal cliff,' but it will not last long, perhaps until the middle of January."

Meanwhile, speculation that Spain, the euro zone's fourth-largest economy, will formally request a bailout buoyed the country's bonds.

"Spain bailout speculation caused Spanish bonds to rally strongly, but I do not believe Spain will ask for a bailout before important elections later this month and they may even wait longer, perhaps until next year," Chandler said.

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 earlier in the session.

A public clash between Greece's international lenders over how Athens can bring its debts down to a sustainable level has fueled fears that Europe's troubles could flare up anew.

A German government source said European countries deliberating on payments to Greece could bundle several tranches 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, foreign exchange 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.

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 flat at 81.070, having earlier hit a two-month high of 81.241.

Against the yen, the dollar was down 0.1 percent at 79.38 , according to Reuters data.

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