* Euro gains slightly after Greece approves budget law
* U.S. "fiscal cliff" continues to vex greenback
* Japan GDP report shows contraction in latest quarter
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Nov 12 The euro held above a two-month
low in Asian trading on Monday after Greece's ruling coalition
secured enough votes in parliament on Sunday to approve the 2013
budget law, but its gains were thought limited ahead of a
meeting by euro zone finance ministers later in the session.
Deputies allied to Greece's three-party government approved
the budget with a comfortable majority of parliament's 300
"Worries about Greece still remain, but at least some
uncertainties have been removed, so we are unlikely to see a big
euro selloff," said Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist
at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo.
Euro zone finance ministers will meet in Brussels later on
Monday to discuss whether to release a new tranche of funding
for the debt-plagued country. German Finance Minister Wolfgang
Schaeuble told a German newspaper on Sunday that the troika of
international lenders to Athens was unlikely to deliver its full
report in time for Monday's meeting.
The euro zone likely will not release the new funding
despite Greece's tough 2013 budget as there is no agreement yet
on how to make its debt sustainable, though Athens is set to get
two more years to cut debt, officials said.
The euro could come under pressure as investors hedged some
of the risks associated with the Nov. 16 Greece funding
deadline, said Richard Hastings, macro strategist at Global
Hunter Securities, in emailed comments.
Greece will roll over 5 billion euros in treasury bills that
mature on Nov. 16 because of a likely delay in getting the next
tranche of its international bailout, a Greek finance ministry
official said on Friday.
"But we should emphasize that when it comes to distressed
finance, deadlines are not as hard as they seem, and deals are
surprisingly spontaneous at any moment," Hastings added.
The euro was changing hands at $1.2723, down from an
earlier Monday high of $1.2737 but still up about 0.1 percent
from late North American levels on Friday, when it fell as low
as $1.2690 on the EBS trading platform. That was its lowest
since Sept. 7
Against the yen, it last stood at 101.13 yen, down
from a session high of 101.25 yen but still up about 0.1 percent
and moving away from a one-month low of 100.43 yen hit on
The dollar bought 79.48 yen, down slightly from late
North American levels on Friday, when it fell as low as 79.07
yen, its weakest since Oct. 18.
Japan's gross domestic product contracted 0.9 percent in
July-September from the previous quarter, in line with
forecasts, official figures published on Monday showed. This was
the first negative reading in three quarters, but it adds to
fears that slowing global growth is pushing the economy into
Concerns about the U.S. fiscal cliff weighed on the
sentiment toward the dollar, though some strategists said the
greenback might benefit from a drop in risk appetite as
investors fretted about the possible impact of about $600
billion in expiring tax cuts and spending reductions due to take
effect in January.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday he was prepared
to compromise with Republicans to avert the fiscal cliff, but he
insisted any plan include higher taxes for high earners.
Currency speculators favored the U.S. dollar in the latest
week for the first time since early September, according to data
from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on
The dollar's net long position totaled $1.296 billion in the
week ended Nov. 6, from net shorts of around $710 million the
previous week. It was the first net long position for the
greenback in two months.
The Australian dollar was up about 0.3 percent at 1.0413
, but still well shy of Wednesday's 1 1/2-month high of
The Aussie was underpinned by weekend trade data from China,
a key trading partner, showing its trade surplus ballooned to
its biggest in 45 months in October as export growth jumped to a
better-than-expected five-month high.